Fire On The Floor
Provogue Records - 2017
To paraphrase an online friend and fellow fan, Beth Hart seems to get better and better with each passing new release. It is hard to find fault with that assertion about Hart's continual musical evolution after listening to Fire On The Floor.
As if drawing from the varied genres of rock, blues, soul, gospel and R&B weren't enough, this time around there's some jazz touched upon as well. What makes Hart such a strong presence in my musical book is how she can take all these influences and never fail to make everything her own personal musical statement.
The album opens with "Jazz Man", a song that lives up to the implications of its title with a swinging jazzy sounds and a great piano sound.
Always a boon, Hart's vocals are, of course, center stage of every song but the many and varied ways they are delivered keep things fresh throughout the disc. She can deliver balls out in your face rock type vocals then turn on a dime to offer up a playful banter type of inflection on the vocals. And when she turns up the dials for the more emotive needs of songs, you become a puddle.
While she is mainly focused on the vocal performance on this album, Hart does play piano on "Woman You've Been Dreaming Of" and "No Place Like Home". Musically speaking the album is amazing but the stand out individual piece of music was the rather understated little guitar solo in "Coca Cola". The bonus track redo of "Tell Her You Belong To Me" from her Better Than Home album features Jeff Beck on the guitar.
The power Hart displays on tracks like "Love Is A Lie" and "Good Day To Cry" makes you feel like you are soaring right alongside her.
For me, I am always particularly enthused about how songs that upon first listen that don't resonate with me the first time around always seem to grow on me with each successive spin of the CD. While I didn't connect with "Love Gangster" the first time around, between listening to it and then seeing it performed live, the song became much more interesting.
The way Hart reflects and ruminates on songs like "Woman You've Been Dreaming Of" where she embodies a woman betrayed in love is astonishing. She's heartbreaking and yet at the same time there's a practicality of strength in the "character". Emotion drips off every word of "Picture In A Frame" while you can feel the longing for home conveyed so deeply in "No Place Like Home".
I think a sure sign of success for an album is how you can introduce someone that has never heard the artist's music before and have them become an instant fan. Fire on the Floor was the gateway for my co-worker. Not only did he love the album, but it made him want to listen to everything Beth Hart had done previously. So that was a fun few days at work as I spun all her albums for him.
There's a strong fun vibe running through some of her more uptempo numbers on the disc. "Fat Man" is a rollicking good time. The use of saxophone and trumpet on the bouncy and vibrant "Let's Get Together" harkens back to the early days of rock and roll while giving the song an extra bit of ear candy. Musically speaking, the outstanding vibe created for the framework of the track "Baby Shot Me Down" is only further enhanced by the different way Hart performs the vocals. The three different vocal styles keep you on your toes and I can only imagine how fantastic this song must be in a live setting.
It is hard to be objective about Hart's music because I am such an unabashed fan (whose fandom only increased after seeing her live in concert for the first time just a week or so ago). But even the most objective person can only find themselves both marveling at and reveling in the rich, tasty and fulfilling musical tapestry that Hart has given her listeners with this record. Fire on the Floor is yet another example of what makes music such a satisfying passion to pursue for both artists and fans. Hart's musical journey continues and we all keep our bags packed to keep her company while she charts the course.
RATING: 4 1/2 out of 5 stars
Wouldn't mind Jeff Beck on all her songs. FOTF is too traditional to suit my taste, but there is no denying, she is Booyaka.
Thanks for reading the review and for the feedback!