This could possibly be her finest album to date.
Beth Hart's never hidden her troubled past or continued struggle with addictions and with new album 'Better Than Home' she presents and confronts more personal aspects of her life. While 'Boom Boom Bang Bang' was a lighter offering, '...Home' brings her back to where she truly excels, putting her heart on her sleeve and opening up the vein of her life experiences. She's delivered a body of work so full of raw emotion it is a physical experience to listen to, but don't for one moment think this is a dark album. This is about the good things in her life, her gratitude to the people who have seen her through, her parents and her beloved husband. It is about not being perfect, life's daily struggles but most of all about her own strength over adversity.
'Might As Well Smile' and 'Tell 'Em to Hold On' are Bluesy gospels, simple piano and the rich tapestry of her voice. 'Tell Her You Belong To Me' is a deeply personal song to her father, married to a woman who refused to allow Hart anything to do with him; the message is clear and heartfelt, "whatever happens you'll always be my Dad". Bad girl Hart belts out 'Trouble', its sassy and gives you an insight into the powerhouse, ballsy lady that she is. 'Better Than Home' is firmly in the present – "I am not afraid or lonely, I am not chasing the ghost of the past" – it is a retrospective but essentially, it's about being at peace with who she is now.
Her range is extraordinary and never once does the voice falter, she's one of few people who delivers the power and precision live as perfectly as she does recorded. Hart never hides her feelings and 'We're Still Living In the City' acknowledges the ups and downs of her and her husband's hobo life, but that she's "still crazy about you baby, even after all this time". 'The Mood That I'm In' is lighter and fun with a Funky Soul feel to it. Favourite track for me is 'Mechanical Heart', a raw, sincere love song to her other half telling him that although damaged, she will love him the best way she can. 'As Long As I Have A Song' evokes midnight in a smoky lounge bar just Hart, a piano and THAT voice. Final song is 'Mama, This One's For You', a song of gratitude to the person who stood by her through everything and got her to where she is now, sweet without being cloying.
'Better Than Home' is without doubt what Beth Hart does best; Blues, Gospel and Soul and this could possibly be her finest album to date.
Helen Bradley Owers