War In My Mind is a tempestuous album that overflows with songs about addiction, death, mental illness, abandonment and extremes: records don't come more cathartic than this. This isn't a record where Beth Hart gets a bit worked up and wants to gets things off her chest. This is an album that violently rips open old wounds and confronts the beasts head on. It's a fearless addition to Hart's oeuvre about understanding, healing and acceptance. Rob Cavallo's flawless production concentrates on the music but leaves plenty of room for Hart to show her emotional flaws and vulnerability through a variety of facades and characters.
Hart cleverly drags us in with Bad Woman Blues - the best blues rock number you've heard all year. She then swaps the ballsy sass of the opener for the haunting piano of War in My Mind. It's our introduction to the Nina Simone-esque depths that the album often digs down to before it's resolution. One of the most surprising things about the album is that it deals with blues style issues, but doesn't always contain the beats and riffs that you'd expect. Sister Dear is a piano led, candid act of contrition. Spanish Lullabies is a funky Latin addition to the album and Rub Me For Luck turns blues into a sexy Bond style track darker by using her trademark vibrato as a howling banshee.
Over the years she's more than proved herself as a balladeer, but this time she also swaps the blues for full scale power ballads. Let It Grow is a rousing track that refers to Hart's addiction troubled years. It's only a key change away from the kind of track that you'd expect from a diva, yet Hart's humility and courage keep the track perfectly grounded despite it's bold arrangement.The final track I Need A Hero is breathtakingly emotional, and the final seconds are sure to break the hardest of hearts.
War in My Mind may not be the Beth Hart album you're expecting, but it's the most personal and courageous album from the doyenne of modern blues.
Groupie Rating 5/5