Beth Hart – ‘Fire On The Floor’ Album Review

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The apocryphal dream of signing a deal and heading off into the stratosphere of fame and superstardom may still be what fuels the likes of X Factor and its ilk, but the reality is that music is work. A heart breaking, life-affirming, soul-draining, mesmerising journey; an artist’s career is often one of self-discovery, hardship and, spread across the path like moon dust, moments of ecstasy when it all goes right. Beth Hart has had such a career. From her work with The Ocean Of Souls (which produced a single album in 1993), via a number of increasingly successful solo albums and two stunning collaborations with Joe Bonamassa (2011’s ‘don’t explain’ and 2013’s ‘seesaw’), she has built up a reputation and a fan base that is second to none – hell, Blues Magazine once dubbed her ‘the ultimate female rock star’ – and in the last few years it seems her career has hit a peak. It seems hard to believe, but Beth’s last album, the exceptional ‘better than home’, appeared just a year ago and yet, despite a lengthy tour in support of that album, she couldn’t wait to get back into the studio. The new album, the aptly-titled ‘fire on the floor’, features twelve blistering new tracks from Beth and her band and it’s clear that the recent successes have only further inspired Beth.

The album kicks into gear as the slinky ‘Jazz man’ swaggers into view with the lascivious throb of the double bass and rich horn section underpinning a smoking-hot vocal from Beth. It’s a crackling start to the album that brings to mind a swinging club in the fifties, all clinking glasses, be-suited patrons and, at its centre, a stage with a grand piano at its centre. Beth, as ever, entices the listener in with a warm grin, but there’s flint in her eyes and fire in her veins, and it’s important not to get too close lest you burn with the heat of it. With a taut beat at its heart, ‘love gangster’ is the best James Bond theme that never was, evocative of Martinis, guns and girls, whilst ‘coca cola’ has a whimsical feel to it as Beth details a sweet love affair that “tastes like coca cola” over a series of gently bluesy guitar licks. In a perfect world, the breezy pop of ‘let’s get together’ would set fire to the charts in every country around the world, and there’s no question that the cooed chorus is designed to lodge deep inside your brain forever more. The corollary to the care-free joy of ‘coca cola’ and ‘let’s get together’ is the dark mood swing of ‘love is a lie’, a stinging blues track that explores the darker side of such unrestrained romance and ‘fat man’ is no less biting, although it has a melody and tempo designed to take possession of your soul.

The second half of the album opens with the dusky blues of the title track with its woozy guitars and a vocal from Beth that is amongst the best she has ever delivered. It builds to a remarkable crescendo, with Beth singing her heart out, and if you don’t feel the heat burst from the speakers, you’re in the wrong place. The pace is bought way down for the fragile beauty of ‘woman you’ve been dreaming of’ which employs subtle strings to enhance a piano melody that is quite simply heart breaking. Things take a brighter turn with the funky ‘baby shot me down’ which sees Beth tear into the song with vigour and attitude. “Got a reason to live, got a reason to fight” is the line that opens the song, and with that assertion of carpe diem fortitude, Beth’s back on her feet and in the role of a femme fatale the likes of which you would not want to cross. Whilst the title may offer a play on words, there’s little that is playful about the dusky blues of ‘a good day to cry’ which harks back to Janis Joplin’s exquisite ‘Pearl’ for inspiration. Similarly restrained is the nostalgic ‘picture in a frame’, a singer-songwriter track sweetened with some understated guitar work. The lights finally go down with the naked ‘no place like home’, which sees the spotlight focused just on Beth, sat quietly at her piano as the audience slowly drift away. It’s the perfect end to the album and Beth’s performance is so intimate, it’s hard to believe she’s singing for anyone but you.

Beth Hart may have been on the rise over the last few years, but she has never sounded more self-assured, more wonderfully eclectic than she does on this remarkable album. She explores a wide range of musical styles over the course of the record, taking the listener on a rich journey that takes in care-free joy (coca cola), the bitter realisation that love is a fickle master (‘love is a lie’) and heart-wrenching nostalgia (‘woman you’ve been dreaming of’) alongside some of the best soul-infused blues you’ll hear all year. Beth Hart is a true artist and as she inhabits every song, so her voice conveys a rich cornucopia of emotions to the listener. ‘Fire on the floor’ is, arguably, Beth Hart’s most compelling effort to date. Ambitious, eloquent and, at times, heart-stoppingly beautiful, it is a masterpiece that will capture your heart from the very first listen. 9

BETH HART NOVEMBER 2016 UK TOUR

PLUS VERY SPECIAL GUEST

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BIRMINGHAM SYMPHONY HALL
FRIDAY 11th NOVEMBER 2016
Tickets: £32.50/£28.50
24 Hour Box Office: 0844 871 8819
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Venue Box Office: 0121 345 0600
Broad Street, Birmingham, B1 2EA
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www.thsh.co.uk

GATESHEAD SAGE

SUNDAY 13th NOVEMBER 2016
Tickets: £32.50/£28.50
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Venue Box Office: 0191 443 4661
www.facebook.com/sagegateshead
St Mary’s Square, Gateshead Quays, Gateshead, NE8 2JR
www.sagegateshead.com

GLASGOW O2 ACADEMY
MONDAY 14th NOVEMBER 2016
Tickets: £32.50/£28.50
24 Hour Box Office: 0844 477 2000
Book Online: www.gigsinscotland.com
Venue Box Office: 0844 477 2000
www.facebook.com/o2academyglasgow
121 Eglinton Street, Glasgow, G5 9NT
www.academymusicgroup.com/o2academyglasgow

BRISTOL COLSTON HALL
THURSDAY 17th NOVEMBER 2016
Tickets: £32.50/£28.50
24 Hour Box Office: 0844 871 8819
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Venue Box Office: 0844 887 1500
www.facebook.com/ColstonHall
Colston Street, Bristol, BS1 5AR
www.colstonhall.org

BOURNEMOUTH SOLENT HALL
SATURDAY 19th NOVEMBER 2016
Tickets: £32.50/£28.50
24 Hour Box Office: 0844 871 8819
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Venue Box Office: 01202 456 456
Exeter Road, Bournemouth, BH2 5BH
www.bic.co.uk

MANCHESTER BRIDGEWATER HALL

MONDAY 21st NOVEMBER 2016
Tickets: £32.50/£28.50
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Venue Box Office: 0844 907 9000
Lower Mosley Street, Manchester M2 3WS
www.facebook.com/TheBridgewaterHall
www.bridgewater-hall.co.uk

LONDON ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL
WEDNESDAY 23rd NOVEMBER 2016
Tickets: £37.50/£32.50
24 Hour Box Office: 0844 871 8819
Book Online: www.alt-tickets.co.uk
Venue Box Office: 0207 960 4200
Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XX
www.southbankcentre.co.uk

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