Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Beth Hart releases her first live release in 13 years, 'Live From New York: Front And Center ', and delivers a set of smouldering and emotionally stripped-bare blues-jazz-rock tracks from a career spanning over 20 years. Born in LA, Hart released her first couple of albums in the ‘90s then rekindled her relationship with the music scene in 2003, as a respected solo singer and going on to be a powerhouse vocalist working with Slash, Jeff Back and Joe Bonamassa, all of which brought her 3 Grammy nominations. Her last solo album, 'Fire On The Floor', was met with great critical acclaim, and the lady herself describes it is “pretty frickin’ good.” Her UK profile has never been stronger than it is now and we are extremely excited to hear her latest live release, in which she treats fans to an intimate performance in New York.
The album kicks off with the blues-jazz fusion 'Let's Get Together', from 'Fire On The Floor', which oozes vintage charm through Hart's strong, deep and soulful vocals. Also from that album Hart delivers 'Jazz Man' - an infectiously upbeat and sultry song with descriptions so vivid I'm there with her - and 'Fat Man' - with a killer guitar intro and contagious riffs, vocals that ebb and flow from gentle to urgent, and a warm, round drum beat. The heavy instrumental, big vocals and delicate harmonics of ‘Love Gangster’ from the same album deliver both soul and pure sex appeal.
‘Baddest Blues' is one of my favourite Beth Hart tracks, from the 2012 album 'Bang Bang Boom Boom', inspired by her mother. A beautiful piano opens the deeply emotional song, with Hart's vocals warm and rich building to a powerful chorus, both musically and vocally. This is simply stunning in arrangement and in delivery, and I'm so pleased it's on this album!
'Delicious Surprise' is a another epic track, this one from the ‘90s, featuring a heavy guitar-led intro and a fiercer vocal. The audience sing along as Hart delivers a blues-rock masterclass complete with scream. The drums are loud and the guitar solo "delicious" (to use Hart's own words).
From 2003, 'Broken & Ugly' takes no prisoners with crunchy guitars, savage melodies and angry lyrics delivered with an effortless southern nectar; "I'm broke I'm smoked out and passed out on the bar". 'Leave The Light On' is a mesmerising track which describes a young girl's fight with self loathing and self harm, and not feeling quite good enough for love; "I wanna love I wanna live, I don’t know much about it I never did. 17 and I’m all messed up inside, I cut myself just to feel alive. I leave the light on." The song opens with a devastating piano and is skilfully scaled back to reveal a truth and edge which is rare. For me, this was an era of true authenticity and raw feeling, and this track is delicately delivered in the intimate setting.
'Saint Teresa' is a simply beautiful track, both vocals and guitar, which I can never decide whether it's heartwarming or heartbreaking. The lyrics (I could list them all!) are stunning; "Mother is it ok if I call you mama? My own walked away when I broke the law". Pure class from the 2015 album 'Better Than Home' which saw Hart reconnecting with and emphasizing her deep soul roots. Her vocals ache with feeling and poke at my eyes, damn it (I got dust in my eyes again….) 'Tell Her You Belong To Me' is from the same album and evokes so much feeling without even seeming to try. 'As Long As I Have A Song' is written about touring and the ache you feel for home when on the road.
'Isolation' is my favourite Beth Hart track of all time, inspired by her struggles with her emotional health, a deep, dark, emotional track which shows a fragile defiance. From her debut album more than 20 years ago, this song is as raw and relevant as ever for anyone who has experienced, or loves someone who has experienced, any form of mental health problems. The lyrics are evocative and the message profound; "So you think I'm crazy. Want to take me away. Inject me with electric shock. I'm not going nowhere."
'Can't Let Go', from the album 'Seesaw' with Joe Bonamassa, gets your whole body moving from the drum-led opening, followed by the upbeat guitar which combine to give a real southern bluesy feel. There are sweet guitar solos (yes, plural!) and a grit to the vocals. 'For My Friends' is from 'Don't Explain' another Hart-Bonamassa collaboration. The heavier intro excites me, the grumbling rhythm section grips my gut, and the funky riffs pique my interest. Add to this, Hart's heartfelt powerhouse vocals and you have a winning combination. For me, the guitar is the star of this track though, directing the song where it needs to go, supported by a banging rhythmic beat, the chunky riffs are genius. This is my favourite of the newer tracks on the album by far. Outstanding.
The closing track heads back to 2016 for 'No Place Like Home', a flawlessly beautiful song that is so simply and elegantly delivered, and so emotive I can feel and see everything Hart describes. Beth Hart has a unique talent - stunning, raw and polished and she connects with the audience in this live album.
'Live From New York: Front And Center' is everything I expected from Beth Hart and more, illustrating some of the stronger songs from her career but letting me know she is far from done. She wasn't named by The Blues Magazine as "the ultimate female rockstar" for nothing. The track list is built up of songs from throughout her career, which is a great introduction to a wonderful talent.
The CD/DVD set will be released on April 13th, 2018 via Provogue Records/Mascot Label Group.
Let's Get Together
Broken & Ugly
Tell Her You Belong To Me
Leave The Light On
As Long As I Have A Song
Can't Let Go
For My Friends
No Place Like Home
Note: not all the above are on the DVD.
Tour dates for UK and Europe:
10-Apr-18 Vicar Street, Dublin, Ireland
12-Apr-18 Regent Theater, Ipswich, UK
14-Apr-18 The La Warr Pavilion, Beshill on Sea, UK
15-Apr-18 Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham, UK
18 -Apr-18 New Theater, Oxford, UK
19-Apr-18 Leas Hall, Folkestone, UK
21-Apr-18 St David Hall, Cardiff, UK
24-Apr-18 Corn Exchange, Cambridge, UK
26-Apr-18 Opera House, Blackpool, UK
27-Apr-18 City Hall, Hull, UK
30-Apr-18 Hexagon, Reading, UK
1-May-18 Guild Hall, Portsmouth, UK
4-May-18 Royal Albert Hall, London, UK
5 -May-18 Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Cheltenham, UK
10-May-18 Ruhr Congress, Bochum, Germany
12-May-18 Ziggo Dome, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
14-May-18 Palais Des Congres, Paris, France
Screamin' for My Supper (1999)
Leave the Light On (2003)
37 Days (2007)
My California (2010)
Don't Explain with Joe Bonamassa (2011)
Bang Bang Boom Boom (2012)
Seesaw with Joe Bonamassa (2013)
Better Than Home(2015)
Fire on the Floor (2016)
Black Coffee with Joe Bonamassa (2018)
Live From New York: Front And Center (2018)
Awards and Nominations:
Grammy Nomination 2014
Blues Music Award Nomination 2014
Blues Blast Music Award 2014
Blues Music Award Nomination 2015