on 21 May 2013
Beth and Joe's second release together and it doesn't disappoint.
I don't think there's a weak track on this album which is no surprise given both artists pedigree. Add a fantastic backing band comprising of some of the best musicians out there and you can't go wrong.
Another great selection of tunes for Beth to belt out in her unmistakable style. It can only be a matter of time before Beth's career goes into the stratosphere she has to be one if not the best female singers out there.
It really makes me sick when you see the crap that we get fed on from the endless talent shows out there, (Did I say talent), yet artists like Beth get overlooked. I recommend you catch her live if you get a chance you wont be disappointed, believe me.
on 1 June 2013
...is that when you go down, there will always be someone to lift you up again.
Seesaw dips further into the world of traditional vocal jazz with slower tempos and more restrained string arrangements than Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa's previous collaboration Don't Explain, which had more country and soul influences. Ms Hart's performance is smoother too. Anyone expecting the raw rasping vocals that are the trademark of her blues output might be disappointed. I emphasise might. Her performance suits the material, and the difference between a good singer with an interesting voice and a great singer is that they can choose exactly how much of a technique they want to use in a given performance. Her love for the material shines on this record with songs like Them There Eyes and Seesaw sounding sweet and bright, while Close To My Fire and If I Tell You I Love You have a rich, smooth late-night-in-a-smokey-jazz-club quality to them. And if you listen to the way she uses a sharp sustained notes in the final verses of Strange Fruit to reenforce the brooding sadness of the song, you will discover what a clean, powerful singer she can be.
Joe Bonamassa too is showing what a craftsman he is. He long ago dispensed with need to wow people with guitar histrionics and instead delivers tight guitar breaks and interesting rhythm and accompanying parts that bolster the vocal performance. It's fascinating to see him experimenting with funk and acoustic blues on his last few records and now traditional Jazz on this. (I have reached the point where I buy his new releases on spec, and I've yet to be disappointed.) That's not to say that there aren't good solos on this album though. The one on I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know is impassioned blues at it's best, as is the more restrained one emerges from the guitar atmospherics at the close of Strange Fruit. But on this record you are more likely to notice the snap of his opening riffs on Nutbush City Limit, and his rhythm work on Can't Let Go, where slide guitar drives the song throughout. The adjectives usually applied to slide guitar like `blistering,' or `howling' don't fit here. It's a warm, rich, vocal sound, that is as smooth as velvet.
I guess that sums up the album. Its warm, smooth and comfortable to listen to, with surprising depth when you start digging into it. If you enjoyed Warren Haynes' Man In Motion album, you will like this. If you long for a gritty blues work out like Sloe Gin or Leave the Light On, you might wonder where the fire went. Well it's banked up, low but alive under the cinders, suffusing the album with a warm glow.
With Seesaw, I went for the vinyl version, and the artwork in the style of older Jazz album covers is pretty good. A nicely illustrated inner sleeve has notes from Beth Hart about some of the songs. The 180g pressing is clean and very quiet (important on tracks like Strange Fruit), but it seems a little tight round the centre post of my turntable. Like other Provogue records it's priced so you can buy this with a download from your supplier of choice, which on balance might be better than asking for more and including a download code inside. There are so many choices of how to get your music now it's hard to find a package that suits every listener. I still prefer a download paired with vinyl, but a spotify subscription probably fills that need for a lot of people.
If you are fan of either artist, this album is worth a look, as it's suitably different from their solo output. But if you are interested in superb vocal jazz and blues, thats when it becomes an essential purchase.
I thought that the original collaboration between Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa in 2011 was a class act and that it would be a hard one to better - BUT, my goodness me, these two are absolutely steaming on this album and whereas "DON'T EXPLAIN" had Joe pretty much down in the mix, leaving the rest of the musicians to shine, on "SEESAW" he comes very much to the fore with some compelling solos!
Certainly, this new album is much more in the line of the Big Band sound of Blues/Jazz/Swing a la Jools Holland but there are some real crackers here that make you sit up and listen including "Nutbush City Limits" sung with fire and passion as only (or so I thought) Tina Turner could manage with Beth truly belting out those lyrics!
Other highlights include "Close To My Fire" and "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know" with Joe's steamy, sinewy solo as a real treat for blues guitar fans, but really, there is nothing but excellent musicianship, songcraft and passion sitting in the 11 tracks presented here - and if you're quick about it, you can pick up the special edition with bonus DVD including 3 music videos and interviews with both Beth and Joe and the rest of the people involved with the making of this album and "consumate" and "professional" are the two abiding words to sum this package up.
If you love the blues in all of it's forms then you'll love this album but even if you don't actually love this genre, the magic that comes across in the interchange between these two stars you will still find most infectious and entertaining!
A must for any serious music collector!
on 21 May 2013
Beth and Joe have done it again. This effervescent follow up album to the exquisite Don't Explain is again stellar, yet more upbeat, high energy, soulful and rockin. No sophomore slump here. Beth & Joe have hit their stride and perhaps are even more in tune with working together on the second go around.
A classy choice of songs have been selected, previously recorded by Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Billie Holiday, Donnie Hathaway, Lucinda Williams, Buddy Miles, Tina Turner, Slackwax, Melody Gardot, and Nina Simone. From big band sounds, to sultry ballads, to balls out growl and howl, to French inspired with Arlan Schierbaum on accordion. Somehow the diversity of the songs are tied together to make a cohesive whole. Anton Fig gives a powerhouse performance on drums with the rest of the excellent band Blondie Chaplin and Carmine Rojas rounding everything out.
Vintage songs and in a sense vintage recording as well. Producer Kevin Shirley's method of recording live in the studio with the entire band playing together is the antithesis of so much of today's manipulated and computerized music. This band is interacting with each other and having FUN - and you can hear it in the music! Later in the process the horns by Lee Thornburg and Ron Dziubla are added as well as the strings by Jeff Bova which just takes everything to yet another level.
Beth Hart not only has an effing astounding voice, but the ability to truly connect with the material and make it her own, then communicate the emotion behind it. Joe Bonamassa augments the songs and compliments Beth's vocals perfectly with tasteful guitar work that is restrained in places and in some places he really lets loose. He shines on the solo at the end of I Love You More than You'll Ever Know with bluesy, soulful work.
Stunning record. Brilliantly done. Guaranteed to brighten your day. One of the best albums of the year. A big sassy bitch of an album!
Joe on guitar, Beth singing - what could go wrong? Answer: nothing. This is a superb follow up to their first collaboration. I agree with another reviewer, Beth's version of Nutbush is really exciting, every bit as good as the original. Buy it.
on 26 June 2013
This has got to be the best Beth Hart album ever and with great guitar from Joe Bonamassa - these two together sound absolutely fantastic - a must have for sure. If I could I'd have give it more stars - it's that good!
on 22 May 2013
Difficult second album? Not a bit of it.
Carrying on where the sublime "Don't Explain" left off a couple of years ago, Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa serve up more of the same albeit that it's a litle more punchy than its predecessor.
Kicking off with the frothy "Them There Eyes", made famous by Billie Holiday in the thirties, the pair once again run the gamut of musical styles taking in jazz, blues and soul along the way.
I can think of few vocalists brave or perhaps foolhardy enough to take on Tina Turner's "Nutbush City Limits", and even fewer capable of nailing it quite as comprehensively as Hart does here.
Elsewhere, a cover of Al Green's "Rhymes" is an undoubted highlight whilst "A Sunday Kind of Love" is at once faithful to the Etta James original but also infuses it with a whole new freshness. Another Melody Gardot song, this time "If I Tell You I Love You", adds a more contemporary edge.
The fifth star is missing only because there's nothing that tingles the spine quite like "I'll Take Care Of You" and "I'd Rather Go Blind" off the first album but this is still a triumphant follow-up with hopefully more to come.
on 20 May 2013
There are many pretenders to the contemporary female vocalist crown worn by Amy Winehouse - at her very best: that sultry jazz warble and emotive inflections. And those pretenders are by and large pathetic in their attempts, the affectations churning out warning noises rather than echoes and individual achievements. Beth Hart is no pretender to the crown, in fact, having such vocal excellence in her own right, but she certainly impresses in the way that Winehouse could, at her very best.
This second release with Joe Bonamassa is superb. Opening big band jazz number 'Them There Eyes' does immediately remind of Winehouse - at her best - and this is followed by a sultry piece of excellence in 'Close To My Fire'. By third 'Nutbush City Limits', the temptation for comparison is unnecessary, though on this it is inevitable, and Hart sails along the Turner line. Fourth, Al Kooper's lovely ballad 'I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know', is exquisitely covered, the emotion conveyed with beauty and strength. And it's saying something about Hart's singing that a mention of Bonamassa doesn't even come into it yet, though his guitar support is, as ever, brilliant.
On fifth 'Can't Let Go', Hart sings with impressive gusto and growl, and Bonamassa is effortlessly slick in accompaniment. This increasingly hot dueting is advanced with gasoline prompts on sixth 'Miss Lady', Bonamassa sparking off with some fiery wah wah and Hart burning with Joplinesque heat. Stunning. Eighth, Al Green's 'Rhymes', is a soulful and funky rendition that showcases Hart's absolute perfection: such inherent strength and natural gruff warble. Bonamassa again contributes his glistening guitar gift-wrap - the excellence informed by the fact his playing never intrudes as solo shining but compliments with its sustained synergy. Ninth 'A Sunday Kind Of Love', made famous by Etta James, is seriously sexual.
The album ends powerfully with 'Strange Fruit', though this is a separate sense of strength. It is a brave cover because of the plurality of its meaningfulness here: its performance history - most notable and obviously Billy Holliday; the painfully poetic storytelling, but also because it ends an album otherwise so upbeat and dynamic in its collective focus. But Hart manages to grace this with genuine emotion, and Bonamassa adds a haunting layer in his distant moaning guitar. On an album of consistently impressive performances, this seals the achievement thoughtfully as well as superlatively, and it is a fitting tribute to Holliday that this album is bookended by songs she made famous.
on 20 May 2013
Waited a long time for Joe and Beth's follow up album ,WORTH THE WAIT, listened twice now,once at home and then on motorbike. the bike was best ,full of those tracks to guide you,never got lost (yee hah). came home relaxed in the best mood ever this year.
Beth,s voice and vocal talent is getting better and better,has she ever sung any of Janis Joplin's songs ? She ,d be Better than a Mercedes Benz!. Joe as usual is always top notch ,balance brilliant . if I could give this album six stars ,no problem.
it,s gone top of my best of all time list(blues and rock).
on 22 May 2013
Album number 2 sees joe & beth continuing the direction of the 1st album,mixing blues,rock & roll some rockabilly to great effect.
Beth has the voice that makes this all seem quite spine tingling,add to the mix some blistering guitar from joe and a band on great form makes this an essential purchase.