As a massive fan of Joe Bonamassa I was intrigued when he released an album with Beth Hart who I was aware of but didn't know much about her and her music. I was very pleasantly surprised on my first listen to the album and began looking back at her own solo material. I was impressed with that too and quickly became a fan of her stuff. The collaboration with Joe Bonamassa was released in 2011 and the album I am reviewing today was the previous release from Beth Hart entitled "My California" she had released four studio albums previously.
Anyone who knows Beth Hart's music knows how much power she has in her voice, her emotive vocals are part of what makes her stick out as an artist but she always has a fine laid back vocal which is heard more on this album than pretty much any of her previous releases, She still has the power when needed. The album was released on 4th October 2010 and was produced by Rune Westberg, who had already worked on Beth's previous albums 37 Days and Leave the Light On. The album was released on Mascot Records and features a collaboration with Slash.
1.) My California
This is a relaxed track which opens with a heavy drum beat and some wavy guitar melodies. Beth's vocals come in with an emotive feel and her expressive vocal moves through the lyrics well. At some points on the song the guitar doesn't sound too great but the song keeps the emotion high and this is a nice relaxed track to open with. It showcases her strong vocals well and I like the way the song subtly changes towards the end. It's a fair start.
2.) Life is calling
This is a change of style, It's a lovely piano ballad which has a sound reminiscent of Karen Carpenter with a more up to date sound. This is a very good track which has a decent chorus which would no doubt make for a good live track. I like the way the song develops and the only thing letting the song down is the lack of a guitar solo at the end which would really have topped things off really well but apart from that it's a strong track.
3.) Happiness...Any Day now
This is a track about waiting for happiness and perhaps a different kind of happiness after stress and issues in your life. I like the way the song develops from a soft rock sound to a heavier rock sound towards the end then it relaxes and slows a little back to the original sound. It's not one of the best songs on the album but it does the job. There are some things on this track that are very likeable.
4.) Love is the hardest
This is a mid tempo ballad about when love is hard and you fight for the relationship. Beth's vocals are emotive on this track and the music combines well with her vocals. I like the guitar sound which is understated yet adds something decent to the track. It's not as good as her best but it has a lot going for it against other artists.
5.) Bad love is good enough
This track talks about a sad love where you shouldn't really be with them but are still drawn to them despite it not being wise to. The chorus is excellent and I like the way the song develops. Her voice emotes particularly well on this one. It tells the difficult story of when you stay in a bad relationship for how it was in the past despite it having gone downhill. This is one of the best songs on the album but not quite at the highest level of a couple here.
This is a mid tempo rock track about having a good time driving somewhere and just getting away from things with someone you connect with. I like the way the guitars blend together and the backing vocals are another nice touch here. It develops well and has a nice feel. I'd like a little more grit in places but it's still a decent song which will probably be amongst the favourites on the album. There's a nice relaxed guitar solo towards the end that is controlled and adds a nice touch.
7.) Sister Heroine
This is one of the most emotive songs she has ever done. It's a touching tribute to her sister who died. It's somehow an uplifting song about the memory of her and how much she felt for her. This is a lovely piano rock ballad which gets a fabulous solo from Slash which just takes things to the next level. This is undoubtedly one of the best songs on the album and is a fabulous song which is touching, emotive and uplifting. Slash's appearance with a fine guitar solo is the icing on the cake.
8.) Take It Easy on me
This is another contender for best track on the album, It's another lovely emotive ballad. Her voice is emotive and you are left in no doubt that she experienced what she sings here. It's head and shoulders above many good tracks on the album. It opens with a beautiful piano part and her vocals then come in dripping with emotion. This track really showcases her superb talent. It's a fabulous track which is one of the tracks I would recommend to anyone new to Beth Hart.
9.) Like You (And everyone else)
This is another Piano led mid tempo rock ballad which has a nice flow and Beth's vocals are well performed and backed well by the backing vocalists. This is not up there with the best couple of tracks on the album but it's certainly one of the leading tracks in the second sector. It has a nice piano intro and builds well with her vocals and then the other instruments come in.
10.) Everybody is sober
This is a catchy up tempo rock track with Beth's melodic vocals combining well with the guitar melodies and catchy beats. I like the guitar melody which runs through the song. Beth's vocals are strong and emotive and the chorus has a catchy memorable feel which again would go down well at live concerts. This track is not up there with her best but is a good all round track nonetheless.
11.) Weight of the world
This is an excellent piano led ballad about looking back at your childhood. Her voice is sweet and emotive here and is amongst her best vocals on the album. I love the way the piano stays subtle and slow in the background with the gentle drum part and percussion. This is a lovely chilled track about when you are free and don't have to think about the big stuff. Good track.
12.) Oh Me Oh My
This is a bonus track which has a lovely live feel, It's just Beth Hart and the piano. Her vocals are extremely emotive and the piano keeps the emotion. This is perhaps the third best track on the album after "Sister Heroine" and "Take It Easy on me". It's a fine bonus track which deserves it's place on the album. Her vocals are more powerful on this one than on much of the album proving that whilst she can do various vocal styles she is still a fine powerhouse.
My California may not have the powerful vocals of much of Beth Hart's discography yet it is still a strong album with a couple of real gems. It's an album with no duds but there are a few weaker links that don't quite live up to the heights of the best tracks on here which are "Sister Heroine", "Take It Easy on me" & "Oh My Oh My" which stand up to anything she has done. Summing up, Beth Hart shows a different side to her on this album and shows that she has a very well rounded talent which should be heard.