It is always an exciting day when a new Beth Hart album arrives, to be played and played again, digesting the passion, soul ad inner light that fuels the delivery of melodies and lyrics that make you smile, cry and shiver with delight all captured in a single track that is the art we expect from Ms Hart! The last studio album setting 2016 alight with Fire On The Floor. Now we have War In The Mind dropping into our playlists for 2019; the title so apt reflecting the dark and turbulent times that have shaped Beth’s music with deep contours. At the same time War in My Mind reflects the turbulence of society today with so much hate as words have become tribal and spat out far too often with hatred with no thought as to the impact they have on the minds and wellbeing of others!
The stunning album art shot of Beth pounding a piano below her own personal storm-cloud is a fitting representation of new material that hits like a force of nature. Now does the music match up to the artwork and the publicity?
Opening with, Bad Women Blues, a bluesy holler chorus is joined by Beth’s deep mood vocals in an anti-love song. It is full of attitude with a clear direction and we know the Bad Woman’s personality. In Beth’s words “It’s about a woman who doesn’t have any interest whatsoever in being good, because she knows she’s not. But instead of hating herself for it, she’s very clear with the man. Like, ‘Baby, I’m an asshole and a frickin’ witch, but you are gonna have fun with me’.”
The title track War In My Mind opens with a melodic ballad-fuelled piano, with a crack of guitar there is a split second of deep silence before Beth’s vocals explore the lyrics of War In My Mind. The music stops and starts adding tension and the two sides that are in confusion in the mind. The lyrics and the journey we undertake with Beth over four-minutes of the ups and downs of textured tones. The tones reflecting the vocals when Beth was addicted and felt she could go on captured in the phrasing ‘Blood on the Walls’. A personal song that strips bare the scars and trauma that has shaped Beth into the performer she is today.
How do you follow that outpouring of raw and personal emotions? With an intro of melodic double bass, funky and jazzy as the crash of cymbals and piano join in before the quieter vocals tinged with a soulful regret captured ‘like a bird with one wing… like a child without a dream …. Without Words in The Way’. This is a moody, gentle prayer asking for a way of communicating without the jumble of words getting in the way. It is a yearning for simplicity, clarity and honesty. Let It Grow is a melodic flowing with an inner determination. The lyrics are pithy and her crafted phrasing paints a tonal picture in a few words that gives the listener a belief that the seedling of hope can grow; in the midst of confusion and addiction. The chorus with backing vocals joining the party lifts the number and raises the tempo as the positivity grows and the sun shines in your face once again.
The beat picks up with a song that is self-indulgent with a vibrant groove that sets the vocals free, as we go seeking the pleasure of life delivered on a throw of the dice. Sung with confidence as whether the mood is heads or tails, light or dark we can party and enjoy the pleasure of life as we Try A Little Harder. The piano is the beating soul of War In My Mind whilst the vocals delivering the superb thought-provoking lyrics are the heartbeat that sets the music alight. We explore a special relationship on this personal lyrical letter written to Sister Dear. Full of apology, humility and love on this crafted song showing the skills of a songwriter at the top of her game. As song so personal whilst resonating with everyone who has experienced the love of a sister.
The title may be Spanish Lullabies, the heat of Spain exudes through the feet tapping hip moving I want to Flamenco beat and tempo. This is a song that exudes the sexy side of Beth as she flirts with the microphone. The pace ebbs to a gentler flow with Rub Me For Luck; this is a song that is internalized Beth is singing to herself, we are eaves-droppers on her songwriting thoughts. The song builds as the tension builds it is thematic and the shapes are cinematic as the words and notes tumble and grow in intensity. Now we have attitude in delivery with Sugar Shack, this is classic Beth you know this song when delivered live will be immense. The album is building the songs demand you to listen again as you get to know and understand the interrelation between the lyrics, melody and the beat.
The last three tracks of the album bring back the piano centre-stage, firstly with the song Woman Down. This is a song full of power and control some used for good, but most for bad as we meet the Woman Down. The words are counted in one, two, three like a nursery rhythm this is a tale that is on the dark side of an all too common woman’s experience. Listen, feel the power and be moved. All too soon it is the penultimate track with Thankful. The clouds have passed on the wind of change and the sun is shining as we have so much to be thankful for as we explore paradise!
Closing out this emotive, heart-warming and breaking experience with I Need A Hero; the simplicity of Beth’s approach to her song we are once again eaves-dropping from behind the piano as Beth channels her thoughts, pain and anguish through the power of the piano and skills of a songwriter with something to say. Like Beth I Need a Hero too, and her music is better than any man in a cape! Why it is full of humanity the tears and smiles; the hate and love that shapes our every day that breaks and makes us stronger depending on the way the wind blows as we experience our own War in My Mind.
War In My Mind is an album that is un-redacted, honest, humble and direct, delivered with authority, no airbrushing of the artwork, no vocal manipulation this is music sung from the soul to you with profound and moving honesty. Beth Hart delivers once again with a dozen tracks that connect directly into your musical vein and flows with emotions that light up your soul and take you down corridors of darkness but always in the company of a shining light of hope, heroes and authenticity. Thank you, Beth Hart, for a glorious album, leaving the hairs on the back of your neck tingling, your heart pumping with hope and a journey that may not always be easy but worth every note and emotion you share with us…. it could be my album of the year.
TENdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Bad Woman Blues
- War In My Mind
- Without Words In The Way
- Let It Grow
- Try A Little Harder
- Sister Dear
- Spanish Lullabies
- Rub Me For Luck
- Sugar Shack
- Woman Down
- I Need A Hero
Beth Hart – UK & Ireland 2020 Tour Dates
Fri 31 Jan – Vicar Street, Dublin
Sun 2 Feb – Ulster Hall, Belfast
Weds 5 Feb – The Dome, Brighton
Sat 8 Feb – Eventim Apollo, London
Sun 9 Feb – Symphony Hall, Birmingham
Weds 12 Feb – St David’s Hall, Cardiff
Fri 14 Feb – Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow
Sat 15 Feb – The Sage, Gateshead
Mon 17 Feb – The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester
Thurs 20 Feb – City Hall, Sheffield
Sat 22 Feb – The Pavillions, Plymouth
Mon 24 Feb – O2 Guildhall, Southampton