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Friday, 9 November 2012

Beth Hart : Bang Bang Boom Boom, the blues just got sexy again

IF anyone has the right to sing the blues, it’s Beth Hart.

At the age of 40 she’s had a tough life. You name it, she’s done it.

But the LA songbird has risen from the ashes to become a high-flier.

“My Dad was sent to prison for drug offences when I was five,” she says. “I went off the rails, turning to alcohol and drugs at the age of 11. My sister did too, but she died from the effects of drugs when I was still a teenager.

“I was eventually diagnosed with a form of Bipolar, and I’ve had my battles with drugs and alcohol addiction.”

Hart says her life was saved by the roadie who went on to become her husband, Scott Guetzkow.

“It was thanks to Scott that I decided enough was enough,” she says. “I started out on the long road to recovery. I still have my bad days, like everyone else, but I’m stronger these days. I’ve learned how to deal with them a bit better than I used to.

“It helps me to write songs that reflect these feelings – it’s a kind of exorcism for me.”

No surprise, then, that Hart’s new album Bang Bang Boom Boom isn’t a set of upbeat poppy songs. But while it’s rooted in the blues, it’s certainly not a blues album. This is her most mainstream set yet.

“I grew up with a lot of different music,” she says. “I like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath, James Taylor and Carole King, Patsy Cline and Hank Williams, Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin. Then there’s the music my mother turned me on to: Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington and Billie Holiday.”

Opener Baddest Blues opens with almost absent-minded piano before exploding in blues guitar drama. With You Everyday is another blues – but the rest of the album is an enticingly eclectic exercise.

Spirit Of God boasts brassy gospel punch; Swing My Thing Around is big band swing; There In Your Heart wears singer-songwriter chic; the title track is almost playful.

The semi-biographical Ugliest House On The Block could sit in either the Alanis Morissette or Sheryl Crow catalogue, Thru The Window Of My Mind gives Adele a run for her money, and the bawdy Better Man explores Hart’s remarkable range.

Best, however, is the seven-minute Caught Out In The Rain which finds her one moment in a passionate rage and the next reduced to a vulnerable whisper, all set in trademark Kevin Shirley production which puts you right in the heart of the studio, as only he can.

It’s Bang Bang Boom Boom time for Beth Hart.

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