When the first cut cranks up, you wonder if you've gottten the right CD in the sleeve. Has there been some mixup at the record factory, or have you just stumbled home after a long night of live musical research and in a mass of confuzemint misfiled your jazz discs in the blues persuasion department? A sober look reveals you've got it right, it's the artist that's causing the confuzemint to set in.
Beth Hart usually makes her intentions clear from the get-go. She's got a deadly one-two punch. The first one puts on flat on you back, the second one pierces your heart when she stomps on it with her stiletto heels. Hart delivers her hard-core, bluesy message with a blowtorch, the fiery repercussions singeing anything she tackles. On her latest, the fire is still there, its just aimed in a different direction.
For the opener, “Jazz Man,” Hart breaks out an Eartha Kitt impersonation turned up to 11, Kitt's space- kitten purr sounding like it's amplified by a stack of Marshalls, scattin' hard on this ode to bopcats.
Hart's still in Kitt mode on the Samba-flavored “Love Gangster," but she's added a Stevie Nicks-singing-through-an-electric-fan impression to the mix for more surreality.
“Coca Cola” is still more out-of-character Hart, this time channeling Edie Brickell for some more surrealistic rambling in acid jazz land.
Hart gets back to more familiar territory with “Love Is a Lie,” a little more bombastic, like Shirley Bassey (“Goldfinger”) delivering the goods basso profundo.
Fans can finally get comfortable with “Fat Man,” Waddy Wachtel 's slashing rock Gawd geetar riffs surrounding Hart's belly whompin blews.
“Good Day To Cry” is what Hart fans live for. She's in full blues goddess mode, rattling the windows
and bringing down the house with a Janis-worthy rocky bombast that still conveys her sense of vulnerability and loss.
“There's No Place Like Home ” would be at home on the country charts, a comfortable fit in Dolly's catalog, but Hart puts a stiff foundation underneath the vocals that's more gospel/blues diva than country songstress.
Hart brings in Jeff Beck for the bonus track,“Tell Her You Belong,” more soul than blues, wringing every last drop of bathos from the tell-the-other-woman-you're-mine context. Beck drops in an ethereal jazz/gospel solo that unsnaps some cranial connections and has you drifting off into the ionosphere till Hart reaches out and lassos you with her vocal lariat, bringing you back down to earth so fast you need heat shields to keep from burning up on reentry.
It may not be what you've come to expect from Hart, but it still gets the job done, one way or another.