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The Rockhaq Community | July 22, 2017

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Album Review: Beth Hart And Joe Bonamassa – Don’t Explain

Student Music Review: Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa - Don't Explain
Joe Doyle

I picked a random album from my iTunes playlist to review and couldn’t have been happier with the result. Modern day covers usually consist of the trending music, but this album goes back to the start, to a time when musicians were musicians. Performed with passion and love, this album will leave you dragging your jaw across the ground for days.

The Ray Charles cover ‘Sinner’s Prayer’ is a perfect opener, immediately showing you what the album’s about. The classic blues rhythm and structure and ball busting solo is the first example of Joe Bonamassa’s guitar capabilities. If it’s not this that interests you, I’m sure the powerful vocals will keep your attention. They follow with a cover of Tom Waits’ ‘Chocolate Jesus’, with a bob-your-head, offbeat rhythm. Next up is a Melody Gardot cover, taking her song ‘Your Heart Is As Black As Night’, keeping it’s laidback feel, just throwing in a few guitar solos.

A Bill Withers cover is next. ‘For My Friends’ is one of those old school blues rock songs, with lots of little niches and interesting timing complexities. As I bob my head, I can’t help but anticipate well for the rest of this album. Next comes their soothing cover of Billie Holliday’s ‘Don’t Explain’. Beth Hart has shown a lot of talent in this album, but here she shows her true capabilities. I feel a guitar solo wasn’t completely necessary, but they put one here and proved me wrong. Joe Bonamassa went more for the ‘making love to the guitar approach’ as opposed to ‘defiling the guitar’. They keep it mellow with Etta James’ ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’. If you have a partner, sit down with them, pop this song on, and relax. It’s a lovely anthem to enjoy together.

Their second Etta James cover, Something’s Got A Hold Of Me’ gives a body to Beth and Joe’s soul. The upbeat track reminds me of a typical American church, full of major chords, topped with the cherry of happy lyrics, drawing a smile on your face for six minutes and five seconds. The song that introduced me to this album, Bobby Bland’s ‘I’ll Take Care Of You’, famously covered by Rihanna and Drake, is introduced with a beautiful piano arpeggio, easing you into the song as Beth Hart jumps in. The climax and emotion in this song is hard to comprehend, overpowering any version I’ve ever heard before. This track was overflowing with passion as it was, then an impressive display of unique vocal power kicks you into the solo. I don’t know how to explain the masterpiece in words, so I’ll use just one; godly.

Finishing with Aretha Franklin, ‘Ain’t No Way’ tones it down with a romantic ballad. Showing lots of talent and understanding of music, this track is a lullaby, the string section pulls your heart strings, leaving you sitting there enticed by the beautiful music. Overall, I’ll give this album a 9/10. A truly phenomenal work by the two prodigies!


  1. Michelle Dhillon

    It has been a very hard decision to choose the Top Five this week, never mind the best review! However, Joe has formed exactly the right balance of music analysis with his own opinions and commentary. This balance has come a long way since Joe’s first review. He provides a much deeper musical understanding of each track than you might normally expect from a standard review. It’s also pretty great to see an album inspired by geniuses like Bill Withers, Ray Charles and Etta James being reviewed on Rockhaq. Great choice and keep up the good work Joe.

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  2. Michelle Dhillon

    This sounds like a great album! I’m going to make a note to listen to it 🙂

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