Seesaw by Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa
Seesaw reunites force-of-nature blues-rock vocalist Beth Hart and guitar hero Joe Bonamassa for a second album of choice covers from various musical eras. As with their first outing, Don’t Explain, the project is in collaboration with producer Kevin Shirley (Joe Bonamassa, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, Black Crowes). Each of the three principals suggested and selected tracks for the 11-song set list, which mines soulful classics previously made famous by Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Billie Holiday, Donnie Hathaway, Lucinda Williams, Buddy Miles, Tina Turner, Slackwax, Melody Gardot, and Nina Simone.
The one-two punch of Hart’s powerhouse vocals and Bonamassa’s scorching solos both honors and reinvents the original recordings. They are backed by the same world class band that kept the grooves going on Don’t Explain: Anton Fig (drums, percussion), Carmine Rojas (bass), Blondie Chaplin (rhythm guitar, backing vocals and percussion), Arlan Schierbaum (organ, piano). This time out, their mighty sound is augmented by a horn section, with Lee Thornburg on trumpets and trombones, and Ron Dziubla on saxophones.
For Hart and Bonamassa, making music together grew out of the friendship and mutual artistic appreciation they developed after crossing paths on the road numerous times, particularly on the festival circuit in Europe. Bonamassa wanted to do a project with her, and came up with the idea for a soul covers record. Shirley, who’s produced 12 of Bonamassa’s albums, was enthusiastic, and Bonamassa contacted Hart. “When I got the call that he wanted to do a soul record with me, I figured I’d be the background singer. He said ‘no, you’re singing lead.’” The chemistry clicked, and Don’t Explain was released in 2011, followed now by 2013’s Seesaw—in between, both Hart and Bonamassa have toured, recorded solo albums, and reached new career highs.
“What’s so cool about these projects is that when Joe and Beth enter the studio, he comes in as a guitar player, and she comes in as a singer,” says Shirley. “They’re getting together just to play fun music, sing some favorite songs, without the pressure of career issues they might have on solo projects. The point is to pick up and celebrate songs that didn’t get their due in the day, and to pay homage to ones that were truly classics. The vibe this time is more upbeat than on Don’t Explain, lots of big band horns.”
1. Them There Eyes
2. Close to My Fire
3. Nutbush City Limits
4. I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know
5. Can't Let You Go
6. Miss Lady
7. If I Tell You I Love You
9. A Sunday Kind of Love
11. Strange Fruit
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