Personnel: Beth Hart (vocals, piano, background vocals); Randy Flowers (guitar); Ron Dziubla (saxophone); Lee Thornberg (trumpet, trombone); Arlan Schierbaum (organ); Curt Bisquera, Herman Matthews, Anton Fig (drums); Lenny Castro (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Kevin Shirley.
Recording information: Revolver Studios, Thousand Oaks, CA (12/02/2012); The Kennedy Center Honors, Washington, DC (12/02/2012).
Photographer: Jeff Katz.
Beth Hart received a considerable boost from her collaboration with guitarist Joe Bonamassa, but her 2013 album, Bang Bang Boom Boom, finds the blues-rock belter returning to her comfort zone, working with producer Kevin Shirley and running through a selection of songs that are originals; songs that emphasize Hart's range and power. In some ways, this is the purest record Hart has yet recorded; there is a real sense of what she can sing and how she lays back, waiting for the moment when her wailing would create the strongest disruption. That means Bang Bang Boom Boom feels familiar without being complacent: there is no surprise in style but rather in attack, how Hart waits for the precise moment to unleash her fury. Sometimes, it seems that Hart would be well-served by stretching herself just a bit, but Bang Bang Boom Boom isn't an album that's meant to surprise. It's supposed to hit its mark with precision and minimal flair, and that's exactly what it does. [The American edition contains a bonus track: the stellar live version of "I'd Rather Go Blind," that Hart performed with Jeff Beck at the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors in tribute to Buddy Guy.] ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine