By Ellen Eldridge
I actually Googled “Baddest Blues” to see if the song of the same title was originally written by blues singer Billie Holiday or maybe Nina Simone, but Beth Hart simply drew from these great inspirations and then some (according to her own list of artists to whom she dedicated Bang Bang Boom Boom). Hart’s voice strikes as instantly familiar, cascading over the piano chords like a medium channeling Janis Joplin. The present day pop feel mixed with exceptional production calls out to sounds as varied as Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” mixed with Rod Stewart’s “Forever Young.”
By the title track, which appears second on the album, listeners know to trust Hart as an accomplished musician who can channel the blues while having a blast. “Bang Bang Boom Boom” also reminds me of Johnny Cash with its “Ring of Fire” reference.
The moody guitar rhythms and rhythmic staccato singing in “Better Man” has fans wanting to sing along before even hearing the full song (though lyrics are included with the physical compact disc). Hart brings a true sense of entertainment to her music; whether listeners are dancing or driving, Hart’s music will get them moving. By track four, I was in love. Hart made me fall fast and hard with her sultry lyrics and the weeping guitar work by Randy Flowers. Always in grand company, Bang Bang Boom Boom also features a guitar solo by Joe Bonamassa on “There in Your Heart” and The Kennedy Center Honors show-stopping performance of Jeff Beck and Beth Hart’s “I’d Rather Go Blind” that paid musical tribute to blues legend Buddy Guy.
Hart first began her collaboration with Jeff Beck when she was the featured vocalist on his 2006 tour, and the two have remained great friends and mutual admirers since. When the Kennedy Center Honors’ producers approached Beck to pay tribute to Buddy Guy, he asked for Hart to join him.
The “I’d Rather Go Blind” track was produced by Michael Stevens and the Kennedy Center Honors’ Musical Director Rob Mathes. The musicians include Mathes on piano, Jeff Beck on guitar, bassist Zev Katz, drummer Charley Drayton, Michael Bearden on Hammond-B3 and keyboards, guitarist Keith Robinson, Jeff Kievit on trumpet, Brad Leali on alto sax, Lou Marini on tenor sax, trombonist Dion Tucker and Kim Wilson on harmonica.
Bang Bang Boom Boom was produced by Kevin Shirley (Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, Joe Bonamassa, Jimmy Page/The Black Crowes, Dream Theater), and features 11 stunning blues, rock, jazz and soul-infuenced tracks, all written or co-written by Hart, recorded live at Revolver Studios in Thousand Oaks, Calif., and mixed at Shirley’s Malibu, Calif., studio in early 2012. For the recording, Shirley assembled an extraordinary group of musicians: long-time “Late Show with David Letterman” drummer Anton Fig (Bob Dylan, Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen), bassist Michael Rhodes (the Dixie Chicks, Reba McEntire, Faith Hill), keyboardist Arlan Schierbaum (Joe Bonamassa, John Hiatt), guitarist Randy Flowers (Meat Loaf, Wynonna Judd), and drummers Curt Bisquera (Josh Groban, Mick Jagger, Elton John) and Herman Matthews (Stevie Wonder, Sheryl Crow, Celine Dion).
Bang Bang Boom Boom is a life-changing endeavor for the Los Angeles-born singer, songwriter and musician, who brought her life experiences, both positive and negative, together for what one European outlet called “a career-defining album.” With many shows already sold out, Hart will launch her first U.S. headline tour in more than a decade on April 30 in Austin, TX, and play Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta on May 7.
Grab your tickets below!