When you talk about a life of highs and lows, Beth Hart could be the poster child. While her career was on the rise in the late 90’s, her personal life had crashed and burned. Bi-Polar swings, drugs, alcohol, self-confidence issues, all combined to literally leave her on the floor convulsing, until the love of a man and some self realization enabled her to enter rehab.
Dropped by her label and with a career in the crossroads, slowly Hart started rebuilding her life, and began the long road back to musical relevance. Her acclaimed 2011 collaboration with guitar master Joe Bonamassa, Don’t Explain, had Hart singing the blues but not living them, and the album still resides on the blues charts.
Beth Hart’s eighth album Bang Bang Boom Boom shows she hasn’t lost a bit of vocal ability or passion. The album begins with a sad piano and a vocal with a cabaret feel. “Baddest Blues” starts slowly but builds with the chorus. “If this is love, what was I thinking. If this is love, what the hell am I gonna do.” While the feel of the song rings true and overall is a top pick, perhaps it would have been better placed deeper into the album.
The title track creates a feeling of a Parisian club. Catchy, fun and a little different from the rest of the songs; it’s pleasant enough and will most likely showcase live much stronger. Once you reach the third track “Better Man,” Hart seems to hit her stride. Moving from blues to a rock beat, the gritty vocal finds a comfortable place between the two.
Beth Hart’s “Bang Bang Boom Boom”
“Caught Out In The Rain” is pure blues; sad, sultry and hard-core. Hart spits out the vocal as if the lyrics were burning ash. This is how you sing the blues. Featuring beautiful production by Kevin Shirley, and with the guitar work from Randy Flowers weeping out the story, it’s one of the best tracks on the album.
“Swing My Thing Back Around,” evokes a bit of the big band era and swing music. Changing the tempo and feel of the album, it’s a comfortable fit for Hart. “With You Everyday,” brings you back to the blues and the love lost, love found theme which is inherent to the album.
“Thru The Window Of My Mind” is just a breathtaking journey both lyrically and vocally. Think of opening a window and letting the breeze pull your voice to the sky. “I want to know love before I die. Open the window.” Hart’s soaring range on this track is a joy to hear.
As you might expect “Spirit of God” brings in a rockin’ gospel feel, complete with hand-clapping and horn section; sure to get your feet moving. “There In Your Heart” reunites Hart with Joe Bonamassa, as he comes in for a flawless guitar solo made even better as Hart closes out the song on top of it.
“The Ugliest House On The Block” combines so many sounds and takes so many directions, it’s hard to define. A story, a melody which starts with organ and turns to a bouncy, almost reggae beat, it’s a lot of things but it works. “Everything Must Change” is slow and bluesy, going back again to the painful side of love.
The American version of Bang Bang Boom Boom has a bonus track which was taken from this past year’s Kennedy Center Honors broadcast. If you watched the show, it was one of those moments not to be forgotten. Honoring the legendary Buddy Guy, Hart backed on guitar by Jeff Beck, brought down the house and a tear to the eye, with a rendition of the classic from Etta James, “I’d Rather Go Blind.” Evoking the feeling of resignation rather than desperation, it is a totally delicious way to end the album; Hart delivers an impassioned delivery with Beck adding the exclamation point.
With the release of Bang Bang Boom Boom, Beth Hart is poised to regain headliner stature as witnessed by her invite to play this year at Eric Clapton’s Crossroad Festival. While there are a few uneven spots, the sheer delight to be derived from listening to her vocals, makes Hart’s latest release a must have not only for her fans, but for all those in need of a blues fix from a woman whose voice can grip your soul and twist it, or take your heart and lift it.
Written by Kath Galasso
OurVinyl | Contributor