Beth Hart will be releasing her brand new studio album War In My Mind on 27th September via Provogue. Produced by Rob Cavallo (Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Dave Matthews Band, Goo Goo Dolls) it sees Hart at the peak of her creative powers.
Beth Hart is as real as it gets. In a music industry full of glossy production and airbrushed photoshoots, this is one artist who throws down her cards, shares her darkest secrets and invites you to join her for the ride. "More than any record I've ever made, I'm more open to being myself on these songs," Beth explains. "I've come a long way with healing, and I'm comfortable with my darknesses, weirdnesses and things that I'm ashamed of – as well as all the things that make me feel good."
The success of 2016's Fire On The Floor album has garnered yet more critical acclaim, growing sales and sold-out shows at iconic venues from the Ryman Auditorium to the Royal Albert Hall (scene of last year's triumphant live DVD). But as the singer reminds us, her life has always moved in cycles – "things get good then go to crap, get good then go to crap" – and it's in these extremes that many of her best songs are born. "On this album, I'm even closer to vulnerability and openness about my life, about love, addiction, my bipolar, my dad, my sister..."
War In My Mind also wraps up a frustrating strand of unfinished business for Beth. Back in 2003, the heavyweight producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Dave Matthews Band, Goo Goo Dolls) was in the frame to mix the singer's Leave The Light On album. "But the producer I was with at the time," recounts Beth, "went ahead without my approval, turned the mix in to Rob – and he passed." Fast-forward 15 years, and at a chance dinner party attended by Cavallo, fate intervened. The host encouraged Beth to play one of her new songs. “After I'd played them,” she remembers, “Rob came up and said, 'You've grown a lot as a songwriter – and I want to record these songs with you'. And he turned out to be one of the coolest people that I've ever worked with."
The sleeve shot of Beth pounding a piano below her own personal stormcloud is a fitting representation of new material that hits like a force of nature. It opens with the anti-love song Bad Woman Blues. "It's about a woman who doesn't have any interest whatsoever in being good, because she knows she's not. But instead of hating herself for it, she's very clear with the man. Like, 'Baby, I'm an asshole and a frickin' witch, but you are gonna have fun with me'." A stately piano ballad that swells to an epic anthem, the title track explores the addiction-troubled years when Beth felt she couldn't go on, Let It Grow is so emotionally honest that its mere mention brings Beth to the brink of tears. "That song is just about having so much hope in the face of being hopeless.” The hedonistic groove of Try A Little Harder evokes the tumbling dice of the Vegas Strip. "It's me jumping into my father's body back in the '70s when he was a high-roller," she explains. "So I'm using his mania for being a baccarat player and my mania for making music. My father and I are so much alike, it's ridiculous. That song makes me feel confident, happy, and more forgiving of my bipolar disorder."
Having followed the fascinating career of Beth Hart for a quarter-century, we've learned not to rule anything out – so long as it's real. And now, with War In My Mind, this songwriter has made a record that bares her soul, wears her heart on her sleeve, and makes no apology for it. "Y'know," she concludes, "when we did the photoshoot for this new album, it was the first time that I said, 'No makeup and no airbrushing'. It was the first time that hearing my voice back didn't make me sick. It was just neat to be 47 and not trying to be young, and competitive, and all of these things that I've always felt like I'm supposed to be. On this record, something told me, just let it be what it is, man. I think I'm starting to make a little headway, getting closer to the truth. And I might not know what the truth is... but I'm OK with that."