Bang Bang Boom Boom
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Husky-voiced Beth Hart continues a career comeback, derailed by substance abuse addiction, with this diverse offering. Perhaps concerned that she’ll be typecast as a blues belter due to 2011’s high profile release with Joe Bonamassa (a second is scheduled for later this year) and a viral video singing the Etta James chestnut “I’d Rather Go Blind” with Jeff Beck at December’s Kennedy Center Honors Buddy Guy event, she expands her palate here. Big band (“Swing My Thing Around”), gospel laced R&B (“Spirit of God”) and reggae (“The Ugliest House on the Block”) keep the set varied while focusing on Hart’s tough, throaty vocals. Still, she uses that powerful instrument to best effect on dramatic, arena filling ballads such as the opening “Baddest Blues” and the aggressive “Better Man.” Producer Kevin Shirley, back from the Bonamassa collaboration, provides sufficiently full bodied backing. Look no further than the seven minute slow blues burner “Caught Out in the Rain” to realize how effectively Hart shifts from vulnerable chanteuse to brassy Joplin inspired flamethrower in the same verse. She soon starts her first solo tour in a decade and since she’ll be performing much of this material live, expect these songs, some of which are autobiographical such as “Thru the Window of My Mind”, to ignite additional fireworks on stage.