Wednesday, April 1, 2015
BETH HART: "Better Than Home"
Label: Provogue/Mascot 2015
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom
Arghhh... the pipes, the pipes are calling. Or rather as our favorite cat once sang: 'Beth I hear you calling' (Peter Criss). Indeed. This goes straight to the HART as she's dealing with demons that have pursued her for her whole life: her older sister who died from complications from aids and her own battle with drugs, booze, bad relationships, bad decisions and ultimately the diagnosis that tied the knot on the whole damn thing, bi-polar disorder. Beth's putting those demons behind her, embracing the great things she’s done and the good things she has and looking forward, because no matter how bad things got sometimes, no matter how dark the sky, how smelly underwear, something always drove her into the light. That's right kiddies. Always remember that famous people struggle with demons, the rest of you are simply just f**ked up beyond belief.
Seriously though. I could listen to Beth Hart 24/7 as she's one of those singers that managed to combine dynamic range with emotional strength. Simply just put on this sucker and kick off your shoes as you'll be here/there for quite a while. With "Better Than Home" Hart has produced a classy and mature platter absolutely chock full of old school arrangements and laid back R&B/Soul with just the hint of jazz and country. It's basically the timeless effort that just as easily could have been released in the 50's, 60's, 70's or any other ancient era for that matter. Do however not expect to find many or any uptempo tracks whatsoever since they are all pretty low and introspective.
The title track goes deep and speak of resurrection and finding peace within yourself. 'St. Teresa' speak of a man in prison and reflects on the whole situation. The chorus part is the hurting slash crying kind and I quote, "Mother is it ok if I call you mama? My own walked away when I broke the law. And standing on the bridge feeling like falling. Would you pray for me mama". Unbelievable, touching, and simply just the perfect ballad material. And yes, I believe there's a movie about this of the nineties and thus her inspiration? The bonus track of "Mama This One's For You" feature the piano pattern of some old ABBA tune? I believe it's The Winner Takes It All?
From the other tracks, you can take your pick since there's no dodgy numbers on this album. But again, you need to be in the zone or rather in the mood, since it's all 'old skool blue' and not the uptempo blues of some of her other projects and albums. It's basically the exact opposite to any Celine Dion album (yuk!). It's the sound of angels crying and it's personal and emotional music with a powerful message and agenda. To never give up, never give in, never surrender! Sheer class. Pure grief. Hallelujah!