Don’t Explain – Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa


Review by Ben Vee

This album grabs you by the collar, pulls you in close, and never lets you go starting with the opening cut, “Sinner’s Prayer”. Originally recorded as a gospel repentance song by Ray Charles in 1957, Beth Hart turns it into a sultry hip grinding blues tune askin’ forgiveness today for what she will surely do again tomorrow! She goes on to do a gut wrenching cover of “Rock Me Baby” that will make Etta smile from up in heaven AND set a new studio standard for the song….believe me! The only original song on the CD is co-written and is a beautiful ballad entitled “I’ll take care of you”; the combination of Beth’s guttural vocals and Joe’s soaring guitar licks are incredible! It is an instant classic!

While not achieving the stratospheric heights of the first three tunes I’ve mentioned, the rest of the songs on the album didn’t disappoint me. I am always a bit leery of songs that make light of others faith but Beth has wrestled with God and Jesus on her previous albums and her cover of Tom Waite’s “Chocolate Jesus” is good. The title cut, “Don’t Explain”, is an old Billie Holiday tune. I could feel the pain and anguish of Billie’s life coming through Beth’s vocals….it was eerie! Beth has struggled a lot with her own personal demons and ten years ago she thought her future as an artist was over. In the song, “For my friends”, I could hear her reaching out to old friends and trying to make them understand that she knows what she lost. It is also a crankin’ rockin’ blues tune that Joe just tears up on guitar and I won’t soon forget it.

The only disappointment on the album was the lack of substantial vocals by Joe Bonamassa. But that is a testament to the confidence Joe has in himself. Many artists are jealous of their talent and their fame and sharing the “top billing” is not done nearly enough. But Joe had a vision for a soulful blues album and who better to do it with than Beth. What results from their collaboration is essentially a Beth Hart album with her vocals and piano playing and his masterful guitar licks supplemented by Joe’s studio band.

Incredibly they laid down the tracks for this album in FOUR days! Don’t explain this album to your friends. Just recommend it and let them experience it for themselves. And let’s all hope that they get the urge in two or three years to do it again!

Ben Vee is a project management consultant by day and blues lover and internet Dj by night. He started out as a broadcast DJ in the 1970s and also worked for a concert promotion company booking acts throughout the southeastern United States. (