Beth Hart: Better Than Home Review

Beth Hart is the workhorse of blues’ American women – if workhorses write songs with Slash and tour with Joe Bonamassa, that is. In the nearly 20 years since Hart launched her solo career with Immortal, Hart has released six additional solo projects, including two DVDs, and collaborated onstage and in the studio with musical giants like Buddy Guy and Jeff Beck. This spring, Hart adds another album to her resume with Better Than Home.

Through 10 songs and one bonus track, Hart tells the story of a survivor. Hart has faced numerous difficulties and tragedies in her life, her bipolar disorder and sister’s death chief among them. Despite it all, she remains a fighter, and music is her battlefield. The emotion in Better Than Home is persistent, able to catch a listener off guard if they are not prepared for it. The album encompasses a love letter (“Mechanical Heart”), a plea (“Tell Her You Belong to Me”), and a retrospective (“St. Teresa”), but above all it evaluates the potential to make peace with the past and move on to something better. “I am not afraid or lonely / I am not chasing the ghost of the past,” Hart promises on the title track. “When the talking on the TV tells me I should be scared / I don’t let it overwhelm me, I know that joy will be there behind every tear,” she explains in “Might As Well Smile.” Hart searches for solace, practices acceptance, and falls back on music as her trusty save-all. “I’ll get along, just as long as I have a song,” she sings in the bonus track “As Long As I Have a Song.”

In a way, Better Than Home is classic Beth Hart. Each song is fueled by the power and intensity of her voice, with her blues background never far from the surface. While Hart rocks hardest in “Trouble,” tracks like “The Mood That I’m In” and “Might As Well Smile” keep the tempo up and allow Hart room to stretch her voice. Piano accents add delicacy to Hart’s soothing vocals in “We’re Still Living in the City” and “As Long As I Have a Song,” while “Mechanical Heart” benefits from orchestral accompaniment.

Hart explores new realms on Better Than Home, both creatively and production-wise. In addition to balancing sensitive songwriting topics with moments of hope and reflection, Hart also found new producers in Michael Stevens and Rob Mathes, both of whom Hart met after performing at the Kennedy Center Honors in 2012. Slated for release through Mascot Label Group on April 13 in Europe and April 14 in the U.S., Better Than Home shows Hart moving forward as a musician and songwriter.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Trouble
– Better Than Home
– St. Teresa
– Mechanical Heart

The Big Hit

– Mechanical Heart

Review by Meghan Roos

Buy the album: Amazon

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