On the eighth album from Beth Hart, she takes her previous inspirations across genres and generations and combines them into one record that is as ambitious as it is eclectic. Dabbling mostly in blues, Beth does expand that sound with hints of country, gospel, R&B and jazz while incorporating a heavy dose of southern and Memphis-style rock. At any given time, Beth’s vocals can be reminiscent of either Etta James, Billie Holiday or Janis Joplin right up to Melissa Etheridge, Amy Winehouse or Serena Ryder. She’s gritty and she shows it. But she’s also happy.
Bang Bang Boom Boom is a renewal of sorts for Beth, who has overcome addiction and has dealt with depression in the past. Her previous albums have documented that quite well but this album is different. It starts out with her proclamation “My love has come along,” in the opening track Baddest Blues where she states “love is the baddest blues.” That song starts off mellow but quickly turns into a rocker as Beth immediately shows off her vocal capabilities that should have placed her in amongst the best vocal powerhouses of our time.
From there, Beth moves through other styles but keeps close with her 3/4 time throughout most of the album as she departs from the blues sound slightly and challenges other styles, all while singing about love and its risks but that they are worth it. The title track and The Ugliest House On The Block are both poppy with the former being one of the more content-light songs she’s recorded while the latter seems trivial and juvenile. Beth has had pop-flavoured songs before but these seem beneath her when considering her abilities. Swing My Thing Back Around embraces a big-band sound as Beth does her best Marilyn Monroe – Betty Boop.
On Thru The Window Of My Mind, she leaves her abilities of strength at the door but in a way that she isn’t restraining herself but rather becomes mortal. The presentation is simple and clean but she still excels. The simplicity of this song makes it a standout on the record.
Bang Bang Boom Boom obviously shows Beth’s strengths as a vocalist. She’s top notch. But it is kept down with songs that are hard to grasp on to. It’s a bumpy album and the lyrics present little to maintain attention once one finally moves beyond Beth’s capabilities as a singer. In some ways, this record is Beth’s strongest but in others, it is lacking from songs that aren’t strong.
1. Baddest Blues
2. Bang Bang Boom Boom
3. Better Man
4. Caught Out In The Rain
5. Swing My Thing Back Around
6. With You Everyday
7. Thru The Window Of My Mind
8. Spirit Of God
9. There In Your Heart
10. The Ugliest House On The Block
11. Everything Must Change
12. I’d Rather Go Blind [Live at the Kennedy Center Honors with Jeff Beck]