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Beth Hart blew into the WERS studio like a gust of wind pushing past swinging saloon door. She immediately took to playing our Steinway grand piano and waved off the engineers attempting to set up her electric keyboard. Her lead guitarist Jon Nichols took the cue and sat down to back her up with his uncased acoustic guitar. Her rhythmic ragtime tapping filled the room with thumping sounds and an energy of positivity and excitement that it rarely receives. Beth Hart is recently back from a European tour for her new album, Bang Bang Boom Boom. Now she’s out to reconquer America with a relentless engagement in every major city across the country, though this nomadic lifestyle hasn’t stifled her unwavering enthusiasm.
Hart began her set with the title track from her new album, Bang Bang Boom Boom. The song is backed by a rollicking piano riff that blazes a trail for her sultry low register vocals. Her singing style on this album is reminiscent of Amy Winehouse if she had made it through the other side of her addictions. Her soulful bluesy voice and raucous piano playing were accented by a brushy rhythmic guitar that spiked up into a twangy cowboy lick. The song’s lyrics echo a renegade mentality of yesterday. Hart sings about Bonnie and Clyde and rock n’ roll suicide in a heartbreaking vibrato.
The next song she played was “Baddest Blues.” This is a slower song inspired by Billy Holiday and Hart’s own mother, strong figures in Beth’s mind, both of them fighters. A slow straggling piano line sets off a song that compares an abusive relationship to drug addiction. Hart’s slow, lamenting vibrato and tragic trail offs sound like Fiona Apple in her prime. Her gasping rasp tells the tale of a codependent love story that is truly heartbreaking. At the end of the song, Hart’s very voice betrays her as she breathlessly mourns a love gone wrong.
The last song that she played for us was “Better Man.” This is a triumphant, empowering ballad that celebrates the foundation of a new love. The song eloquently explores the difference between a harmful and a healthy relationship. Beth Hart’s vocals seem to gurgle up out of her soul as she stomps on the pedals and pounds on the keys. She trudges through the mire of a broken down, old, dysfunctional relationship with the verse “He never stolen my car/Or tried to pawn my guitar/He doesn’t flirt with my friends/My money he don’t spend.” Beth takes advantage of the blues genre by backing a huge amount of lyrical dexterity into every bar of the song. She vacillates between expressive caterwauling and measured harmonics in a mesmerizing mix of tones and pitches. The song concludes with the victorious decree “I don’t want you anymore/I get so out of control/I found me a better man/Grease my pen better than you can.”
Beth Hart’s career has continued to grow and flower. Her newest album, Bang Bang Boom Boom, is a pit stop on the road trip to take back the American audience. Her search for truth and honestly in her music has made her one of the most powerful and influential blues rock singers around today.