Grammy nominated American singer-songwriter Beth Hart will be releasing her album ‘Better Than Home’ on 13th April 2015.
In 2012, Beth appeared with Jeff Beck at the Kennedy Center Honors to celebrate Buddy Guy and his remarkable musical legacy — with a once-in-a-lifetime rendition of Etta James’ I’d Rather Go Blind. What followed was one of the two standing ovations that evening, led by President Barack Obama and his wife, Michelle.
In 2014, Beth was nominated for a Blues Music Award in the ‘Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year’ category after releasing Seesaw (with Joe Bonamassa.)
We have been listening to the new album:
Beth’s life could be summed up in one simple line, taken from title of the first track: Because she “Might As Well Smile.”
Her voice falters as it faces up to yet more of life’s unrelenting little challenges. Even the corner-shop proprietor seems to possess more philosophical sense than Beth does (some days.) And the TV preaches at her when she is vulnerable … leaving her feeeling weakened and warning her about her ways.
The carefully plucked guitar adds underlying tension to this matter-of-fact gospel soaked blues number. Perhaps the sentiment is empty — it’s certainly defeated — the clue is in one of the final lines: “I’ve got nothing to lose…” There’s a vacuum here — and all that fills it is a single feeble smile.
One of the most primitive reflexes we have (we were all born with it) is called the grasper reflex — it’s the the need to ‘Hold On’ to something (or preferably) someone to stop ourselves from falling. So ‘Tell ‘Em To Hold On’ explores that shared human condition with some perfectly crafted insights… and an uncanny ability to get right to the nub of the thinking. If this song rings true for you, you are not alone.
There’s nothing more emotionally blues-worthy than a woman singing in a fragile, weepy way — as she vainly attempts to grab her man back from the close embraces of another lady. Carly Simon, J-Lo (cover), Anita Baker and Dolly Parton have all done it — now we get the same kind of reactions from Beth: ‘Tell Her You Belong To Me.’ She says. This has that fully quavering voice, replete with such trembling pathos it will make you choke too! And those flickering feathers of deep discontent will cause goose-bumps to rise all over. This is not only tremulous and nervous — but it also rises valiantly towards the end — like a great eagle on the wing. Finally, Beth is able demonstrate her true strengths — determination and perseverance — in the face of overwhelming odds.
‘Mechanical Heart’ has already been released as the first single from the album. It has a dark presence that runs through it like a black mark might run across your clean sheets.
This love song is beautifully introverted and ridiculously self-critical. What kind of woman declares that she has a mechanical heart? Beth’s kind.
But, in actual fact, this is a growing truth we all must face… we are becoming robots. We may be ‘more in touch’ technically (with each other) yet we are in danger of losing our humanity. In these days of social networking, instant messages and snappy texts… we are growing ever-more apart. Beth examines these issues in her song, whilst exploiting her full potential — her vocal range is simply amazing. And the production on this track is sublime. This is an incredibly crafted piece of very highly personalized blues perfection.
The album closes with another sweet song, accompanied by simple piano. This is certainly reminiscent of Janis Ian (“At Seventeen”) with almost the same progression, the same clever fusion of jazz and blues, and, of course, a familiar sighed and saddened anguish. But this is a hymn sung to a mother. So it’s not as introspective as Ian’s ode.
And this song will be, in all likelihood, the most sincerely loving song you will hear all year.
This album recognizes that things are not always perfect in our world — and although you don’t have to run off and escape from all the problems just yet — it’s nice to know that there is always a better place to go. You can leave for it when you’re good and ready…
For raw emotional discharge, uncomfortable nervous passion and articulate under-statement … this has to be the album of the year…
Words: @neilmach 2015 ©