This is an album as addictive as the substances that dictate some of the lyrical themes.
I have to admit that, aside from one or two songs, I'm unfamiliar with Beth Hart's earlier work, but after living with 'My California' for a couple of weeks I'll certainly be tracking down some of her other releases. The reviews editor well knows my love of women (female singers that is) and was spot on with the assumption that I'd like this. To say that Beth Hart's life has been a roller-coaster ride is something of an understatement and all her personal experiences and life trials have been decisive factors in shaping the songs on her albums, 'My California' being no exception. Reminiscent at times of the much missed Amanda Marshall, the heartfelt conviction contained in each track impresses on both a spiritual and musical level and the fact that everyone should be able to identify with elements of Beth's narratives simply adds to the attraction. The title track is a simple but effective vocal built upon a haunting synth/guitar score and immediately we're drawn into Beth's observations and reflections.
The piano based 'Love Is The Hardest' contains a subject matter that most of us can relate to, yet this is counterbalanced by the openly moving 'Take It Easy On Me'. 'Sister Heroine' is the track that has the greatest impact of all. A song about the loss of one's sister to drugs would be tough to take but the poignancy and honesty contained in the lyrics and the melancholy musical framework, which has a subtle country undercurrent, acts as the perfect catalyst for Beth's emotions and feelings. At times the mental and physical struggles that we are guided through paint an uncompromising human picture and it's as if the music is a form of release or coping mechanism. Most of the piano based song structures simply embellish the strong vocal lines and it's left to 'Drive' to vary the pacing with the most readily identifiable rock framework. Thought provoking and passionate yet creatively artistic, 'My California' contains no extended musical work-outs but acts as a showcase for a series of intimate short stories built around some mesmerising vocals and deft musicianship. This is an album as addictive as the substances that dictate some of the lyrical themes and that most of the songs were completed in one take just makes one appreciate its quality even more.