Beth Hart: Better Than Home

On Better than Home Beth Hart delivers a veritable tour-de-force that highlights her remarkable prowess as both a singer and songwriter.
Beth Hart
Better Than Home

Beth Hart has made quite a name for herself in the 15 years since her single “LA Song (Out of This Town)” gained her an international following and garnered her placement on an episode of Beverly Hills 90210. With several songs topping the blues charts, collaborations with assorted superstars, and various Grammy nominations to her credit, Hart’s success seemed assured.

From the beginning, Hart seemed to have it all — an uncanny ability to write hit songs, a major label affiliation, lengthy tour itineraries, and plenty of positive publicity. An accomplished musician since the age of four, she clearly commanded a future that was flush with promise. Sadly though, she was done in by her demons. Haunted by the specter of drug abuse and undiagnosed bi-polar disease, she slipped into an abyss that threatened to derail both her career and the rest of her life as well.

Fortunately, she managed to triumph through sheer tenacity, and after spending time in a sanitarium and kicking her drug habit, she subsequently got married and resumed her successful trajectory. She’s been engaged in some all-star alliances, including collaborations with guitarists Jeff Beck, Slash and Joe Bonamassa, elevated herself to headliner status in Europe, found herself receiving kudos for her spotlight performance at a recent Kennedy Center Honors program, and, featured prominently as part of Eric Clapton’s Crossroads Guitar Fest at Madison Square Garden. She’s also touting an excellent new album, Better Than Home, her fifth recording of the past three years.

These days, with her struggles mostly behind her, Hart appears happy, satisfied and committed to a relentless work routine. It’s notable then that on Better Than Home she makes good on that promise, delivering a veritable tour-de-force that highlights her remarkable prowess as both a singer and songwriter. The album gets a good sendoff with opening track “Might As Well Smile”, an excellent example of Hart’s current state of unbridled optimism. (“I woke up this morning / With a smile on my face / I threw out those stones / That stood in my way.”) Of course, Hart’s no Pollyanna, but maintaining a lowered gaze isn’t in keeping with her style either. While succeeding songs take a more subdued turn, from the troubled tone of “Tell ‘Em to Hold On” to the moving, melodic ballads “St. Teresa” and “Better Than Home”, Hart’s assurance and determination are never in doubt. When, in the defiant “Tell Her You Belong to Me”, she implores an unfaithful lover to reject her would-be rival’s advances, she remains resolute (“No she’ll never win / ‘Cause I’m not giving in…”).

As of now, Hart’s placed herself on a pedestal, one that distinguishes her from scores of contemporaries who have all attempted to occupy her turf. Hart’s songs sound like standards, and Hart herself goes to great lengths to establish singular stardom. She succeeds on all counts, but ultimately it’s the music that matters and on that score Hart’s got her credence covered. Better Than Home is the kind of album that define a career, and simply put, that’s better than most.

RATING 7 / 10