Personnel: Beth Hart (vocals, background vocals); Larry Campbell (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, mandolin); Rob Mathes (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, keyboards); Perry Montague-Mason (violin); Peter Lale (viola); Martin Loveday (cello); Aaron Heick (alto saxophone, baritone saxophone); Andy Snitzer (tenor saxophone); Jeff Kievit (trumpet); Mike Davis (trombone); Zev Katz (upright bass, electric bass); Charley Drayton (drums, percussion); Nikki Richards, James "D-Train" Williams , Angela Clemmons, Vaneese Thomas (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Ed Cherney .
Liner Note Author: F.X. Feeney.
Recording information: Abbey Road Studios, London, UK (08/2014); Jrock Studios, New York, NY (08/2014); MSR Studios, New York, NY (08/2014); Peaceful Waters Music, Pound Ridge, NY (08/2014).
Editor: Jamie Siegel.
Photographer: Greg Watermann.
Arrangers: Rob Mathes; Beth Hart.
Separating from producer Kevin Shirley for the first time in three records, Beth Hart chose to work with Rob Mathes and Michael Stevens for 2015's Better Than Home. A change in producers helped Hart change direction, letting her depart from the down-and-dirty blues belting she specialized in throughout her time with Shirley, reconnecting slightly to her singer/songwriter beginning while emphasizing deep soul roots. Despite opening with the tight Memphis groove of "Might as Well Smile," most of the album is grandly introspective -- majestic brooding ballads with a clear debt to early Elton John. This cinematic landscape provides a nice contrast to Hart's raw, nervy vocals, accentuating the aching in her delivery. This emotional immediacy compensates for the sometimes elliptical songs, songs that take a little while to settle, but the risks Hart's taken on Better Than Home pay off: this is a distinctive, ambitious record that takes advantage of her natural talents in surprising ways. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine