Beth Hart + Joe Bonamassa, “See Saw” (2013): One Track Mind

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Beth Hart, a raw and dynamic singer, has joined forces once again with guitarist Joe Bonamassa — and, as with 2011’s Don’t Explain, this collaboration brings out the best in both.

Hart’s quivering growl, and her dangerously sexual purr, have rarely been put to better use than on the title track from their forthcoming Provogue Records release — this simmering tale, first made famous by Aretha Franklin, of a good love that often goes wrong. She can be diamond hard, and as fragile as a flower petal — and “See Saw” illustrates every one of those strengths, amid a honking horn accompaniment that sounds like it walked in from a classic Stax session.

As with their last album, Bonamassa’s towering gifts are never revealed more fully than during the dilated solo windows that a radio-ready song like “See Saw” provides. (The same can be said, too, for his collaborations with the now-defunct Black Country Communion.) Forced here to edit on the fly, Bonamassa makes every note count — and thus avoids the occasionally unfocused noodling that mars his typically longer-form solo musings.

Hart brilliantly wails her way through the bridge, opening the door a short, sharp blast of Bonamassa, before returning at a whole new level of emotional intensity. “See Saw” ends on a tornadic high — brass blasting, Bonamassa adding these knifing asides, and Hart in a throat-shredding cry.

See Saw, which also includes cover songs associated with Billie Holiday and Etta James, is due on May 20, 2013 in the UK and then on May 21 in America.

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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