CD REVIEW: BETH HART – Fire On The Floor
Mascot Label Group/Provogue
14 October, 2016
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
Beth Hart is on a roll. Her last album, 2015’s Better Than Home took her around the world on the back of its soulful blues and her incredibly emotive vocals, and Fire On The Floor follows in a similarly eclectic fashion.
Opening with the appropriately smoky jazz of Jazz Man, before getting playful on the ‘70s blues of Love Gangster and the sultry Billie Holiday-isms of Coca Cola, it’s obvious that where once upon a time Hart was exorcising her demons through song, here love takes a more central role.
That’s not to say there’s any soppy AM radio fare here – Hart has a whipcrack razor-sharp band (featuring Michael Landau, Waddy Wachtel, Brian Allen, Rick Marotta, Jim Cox, Dean Parks and Ivan Neville) in the studio with her, and they prove adept at following her from the blues into jazz, smouldering torch songs (the title track, Woman You’ve Been Dreaming Of), New Orleans funk (Baby Shot Me Down) and any other back passage she meanders down.
The sheer eclecticism on Fire On The Floor makes it a record out of time in these overly pigeon-holed times: it’s a record which sounds like it belongs in the ‘70s – and if it had landed in that decade, you can bet it had been a million seller and we’d all know these twelve songs back-to-front by now.
Good Day To Cry is pure emotion, a heartfelt love song to husband, road manager & emotional rock Scott Guetzkow – and, like many of the rest of the songs here, a sure fire hit in decades past.
If Better Than Home was about loving the life of a touring musician, seeing the world with your partner by your side, then album closer No Place Like Home is the hangover after two years of hard touring: a simply rendered vocal-and-piano ballad (with a few subtle strings) full of beauty and a weary tenderness that strikes a chord in any seasoned traveller.
Hart can’t put a foot wrong at the moment, and Fire On The Floor has the capability to tell the world at large what keen listeners have already deduced: that Beth Hart is a modern queen of the blues, ready to ascend to her rightful place alongside greats such as Holiday, Bessie Smith, Aretha Franklin and Big Mama Thornton.
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