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BETH HART My California Provogue (2010)

Beth Hart

It's not been an easy ride for Beth Hart. From the highs of Billboard topping success to the lows of mental health and addiction issues.

But My California finds her in a much more ‘centred' place and as a result it's her most accessible album to date. In the past, it's not been unknown for her to ‘go off on one' Janis Joplin style, and usually when you weren't expecting it.

Her calming influence has been Danish producer Rune Westberg who encouraged her to adopt a more consistent style and to temper her naked, raw and emotive outpourings. He also insisted on recording the songs on the day they were conceived to capture their unspoiled essence.

The outcome is a reflective collection of personal stories of love, loss and the struggle with personal demons.

On the album she's ably supported by Westberg (guitars and bass), Frederick Bokkenheuser (drums), Nathaniel Webb (guitars), and Stephan Galfas (guitars and keyboards). And Slash makes a cameo performance - his guitar lines intertwining with Beth's vocals one of the stand out tracks, My Heroine. It's payback for her superb contribution, Mother Maria, to his recent solo album

While My California doesn't always reach those giddy heights, it regularly comes close - for example on the dreamy title track, the infuriatingly infectious Drive, and the wonderful moody Everybody Is Sober.

It's by far her most consistent album, and one that should get major airtime on American AOR stations. Beth finally has those demons in check, and My California is a suitably cathartic release.

***½

Review by Pete Whalley

 


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***** Out of this world | **** Pretty damn fine |
*** OK, approach with caution unless you are a fan |
** Instant bargain bin fodder | * Ugly. Just ugly

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