BETH HART AND JOE BONAMASSA TEAM UP FOR SECOND ALBUM OF SOUL COVERS, SEESAW, OUT MAY 20
FEMALE BLUES SINGER HART ON FIRE COLLABORATING WITH WORLD’S BEST GUITAR PLAYER
ALBUM FEATURES A COLLECTION OF SONGS MADE FAMOUS BY ARTISTS INCLUDING ARETHA FRANKLIN, ETTA JAMES, BILLIE HOLIDAY, DONNIE HATHAWAY, LUCINDA WILLIAMS, BUDDY MILES, TINA TURNER, SLACKWAX, MELODY GARDOT, AND NINA SIMONE
Much buzzed about singer-songwriter Beth Hart, known for her raw and powerful blues-rock sound, and guitarist Joe Bonamassa, one of the best guitarists of his generation, will release their sophomore album of classic soul covers Seesawon May 20, 2013 via Provogue Records (a division of Mascot Label Group). Produced byKevin Shirley (Joe Bonamassa, Led Zeppelin, Black Crowes), the album features Hart’s scorching interpretations of eleven songs, with Bonamassa on guitar and an all-star band filling out the tracks. It was recorded in January 2013 at Revolver Studios in Thousand Oaks, CA and The Cave inMalibu, CA. The duo will play a select run of live shows inEurope in June, with two Amsterdam dates at Carré Theatre being filmed for a future DVD release.
A force of nature with powerhouse vocals, Hart has been in the spotlight since her show-stopping set with Jeff Beck on the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors to pay tribute to blues legend Buddy Guy. The duo received a rare, non-honoree standing ovation when they played “I’d Rather Go Blind” – a song she and Bonamassa originally covered together on Don’t Explain – which the Baltimore Sun called a “soul-searing performance.” Hart reunited with Beck onstage at last week’s Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Festival, which featured blues and guitar greats like Albert Lee, Taj Mahal, B.B. King, Sonny Landreth, Keith Urban, Keb’ Mo’, and John Mayer. Together they performed Howlin’ Wolf’s “I Ain’t Superstitious” and the Beck/Stevie Ray Vaughan-penned “Goin’ Down.”
Seesaw is the follow up to 2011’s Don’t Explain, on which Slant called Hart “a simply peerless frontwoman;” AllMusic.com said “Bonamassa and band accent her every phrase with requisite rowdiness, sting and grit.” About.com called the duo “a match made in Heaven” and MOJO praised their
“potent musical chemistry.” The album was nominated for a 2012 Blues Music Award.
Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa – Photography: Jeff Katz
Seesaw opens with a joyous horn reveille to kick off “Them There Eyes,” made famous in 1939 by Billie Holiday—one of Hart’s biggest inspirations. “My mother turned me on to this song when I was a kid,” says Beth. “I love the bubbliness. It’s sexy, it’s fun, and it has a great swing to it.” On the track “Nutbush City Limits,” Hart wails with an intensity that would make Tina Turner proud, and her slow and soulful burn on “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” pairs dramatically with Bonamassa’s smoking guitar. The tempo kicks up several notches with Hart’s tight, rocking vocals on “Can’t Let Go,” from Lucinda Williams’ Grammy-winning 1998 album Car Wheels On A Gravel Road. It’s followed by her fierce cover of “Miss Lady,” the Buddy Miles song that was originally produced by Jimi Hendrix. Hart revisits Melody Gardot’s songbook to deliver a sultry, jazzy rendition of “If I Tell You I Love You.” “See Saw,” is a Don Covay/Steve Cropper composition from Aretha Franklin’s 1968 album Aretha Now. The album closes with Hart’s haunting and atmospheric version of “Strange Fruit,” a song that began as a poem about American racism—and lynching—by Abel Meeropol.
To back Hart up, Bonamassa assembled the band that was heard on his #1 Blues album The Ballad of John Henry (2009) and on Don’t Explain: Anton Fig (drums, percussion), Blondie Chaplin (guitar), and Carmine Rojas (bass), as well as Arlan Schierbaum (keyboards). Lenny Castro plays percussion and Michael Rhodes plays bass on the track “I’ll Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know.” Collectively, they have performed with hundreds of artists including The Beach Boys, Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kiss, and the CBS Orchestra on Late Night with David Letterman.
On August 6 2012, Hart released her first U.S. album in a decade, Bang Bang Boom Boom, to stellar reviews. Bonamassa released his first live acoustic CD/DVD/Blu-ray, An Acoustic Evening At The Vienna Opera House, on March 25 to enthusiastic reviews.
Seesaw Track Listing:
1. Them There Eyes 2:31
2. Close To My Fire 5:12
3. Nutbush City Limits 3:34
4. I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know 7:03
5. Can’t Let Go 4:00
6. Miss Lady 4:54
7. If I Tell You I Love You 3:36
8. Rhymes 5:03
9. Sunday Kind Of Love 3:55
10. See Saw 3:25
11. Strange Fruit 5:45
The Album – Track By Track
1. “Them There Eyes”
Seesaw, Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa’s second album collaboration, opens with “Them There Eyes,” made famous in 1939 by Billie Holiday—one of Hart’s biggest inspirations. “My mother turned me on to this song when I was a kid,” says Beth. “I love the bubbliness. It’s sexy, it’s fun, and it has a great swing to it.”
2. “Close To My Fire”
Next up, Hart offers a super sultry take on a much more contemporary cover, 2012’s “Close To My Fire” from Slackwax. “I didn’t immediately jump on this song, but my husband did and my manager loved it,” she says. “I was intimidated because the woman who sang it with Slackwax just nailed it, and I had to find my own way of getting it right. It didn’t click with me until the day we did it. I felt like I ended up having nice timing on the song, and the band played amazing.”
3. “Nutbush City Limits”
On “Nutbush City Limits,” Hart wails with an intensity that would make Tina Turner proud. “Kevin sprung that song on me the last day of recording. He said, ‘We’re going to do this in half an hour.’ I remembered that in the Tina Turner movie What’s Love Got To Do With It, Ike is being abusive to her, telling her to sing the song like a man, to sing it hard. I adore Tina, and doing “Nutbush City Limits” was a big challenge. I went outside, listened to her version, and then came back in the studio and did it. It ended up feeling incredible to sing, and the band killed it.”
4. “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know”
Hart’s slow and soulful burn on “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” pairs dramatically with Bonamassa’s smoking guitar. “It’s a Donnie Hathaway song that I really got turned on to when I saw a live version of it that Amy Winehouse did in France. I found it online. To prepare, I learned Donnie’s version, but Amy did an amazing job with it as well.”
5. “Can’t Let Go”
The tempo kicks up several notches with Hart’s tight, rocking vocals on “Can’t Let Go,” from Lucinda Williams’ Grammy-winning 1998 album Car Wheels On A Gravel Road. “I love the southern appeal of this one—playing out of a little sugar shack, and singing that song about your man walking away from you. It’s a classic,” says Hart.
6. “Miss Lady”
Up next is a fierce cover of “Miss Lady,” the Buddy Miles song that was originally produced by Jimi Hendrix. “Kevin played this for me when we recorded Don’t Explain, and I didn’t want to do it,” says Hart. “He suggested it again this time, and I still didn’t want to do it. It wasn’t that I didn’t think it was a great song, it was just so vocally demanding. I felt I would screw it up. At the end of one long day, he said, ‘Let’s just do a quick pass on it.’ My throat was so tired, I just screamed it out, and he kept it. It was a nice surprise.”
7. “If I Tell You I Love You”
Hart revisits Melody Gardot’s songbook to deliver a sultry, jazzy rendition of “If I Tell You I Love You.” “Her voice and her songwriting are incredible. It feels so good to sing this song, it just rolls off the tongue. The lyrics, the melody, the vibe are great,” says Hart.
It pairs beautifully with “Rhymes,” which Hart found on an album by her idol Etta James. “I have a huge collection of recordings by Etta,” she says. “I decided to go through every single one, and I came across ‘Rhymes.’ I loved the low end singing, the bottom end stuff. It has attitude, but there’s an innocence to the attitude, and a wonderful groove.”
9. “Sunday Kind Of Love”
Another Etta James song follows, a gorgeous take on the classic “Sunday Kind Of Love.” “I have loved this song forever,” says Hart. “It was one that Kevin and I both agreed on, but he was the first to suggest it, he beat me to the punch. I worked hard on it and tried to have faith in myself. This song was a big one for my mother. So I was thinking about Etta, and also about my mom, knowing that she would love it, and that it would mean something special to her.”
“Seesaw,” is a Don Covay/Steve Cropper composition from Aretha Franklin’s 1968 album Aretha Now. “This is another one I’ve always adored,” says Hart. “It’s really high up in the range, and I asked Kevin to take it down a whole step. He said, ‘No, you can do it.’ It’s a really fun song, high energy, with a lot of attitude. Kevin liked it for the title track because he felt it was a good way of describing the ups and downs of the record.”
11. “Strange Fruit”
The album closes with Hart’s haunting and atmospheric version of “Strange Fruit,” a song that began as a poem about American racism—and lynching—by Abel Meeropol. “This is one of the most amazing songs ever written. The lyrical concept is one of the most important things in American history. Billie Holiday and Nina Simone both did great recordings, but Nina’s is the one that Kevin really had me listen to. I don’t have any personal relationship to slavery in my family, but I can at least sing it from a place of compassion.”
Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa Tour:
Jun 22 Bergenhus, Bergen, NO
Jun 24 Hampton Court Palace Festival, London, UK
Jun 26 Lotto Arena , Antwerp, BE
Jun 29 Royal Carré Theater, Amsterdam, NL
Jun 30 Royal Carre Theater, Amsterdam, NL