It doesn’t take long after setting Fire On The Floor playing to realise why Beth Hart has nabbed herself Grammy and Blues Music Award nominations, and has collaborated with the likes Jeff Beck, Joe Bonamassa, and everyone’s favourite frizzy-haired hard-rocker, Slash; the woman has a set of pipes on her, and she knows how to use them. With her 9th solo studio album, Hart adds plenty of jazz and soul elements to the blues-rock that has permeated her recent records.
The recording sessions for Fire On The Floor saw 16 songs recorded in 3 days, with much more time spent mixing and mastering the 12 tracks that made it onto the final release. Given the pace of recording, it speaks volumes of the skills of the musicians assembled by producer Oliver Leiber that there are no mistakes evident to the listener, and the time spent perfecting the mix results in an album defined by space and clarity.
All of this is displayed on opening track, Jazzman, which conjures an image of a dimly lit, smoke-filled, music club even before Hart kicks in with her sultry vocal performance. Love Gangster backs Hart’s forceful vocals with a suitably gritty guitar riff, which shares the limelight with a solid piano/organ combo. Love Is A Lie showcases Hart’s voice, which takes on a watery vibrato for the chorus, while the music pays homage to the soul standards without directly copping any particular song.
While Hart can belt it out of the park, the most engaging and powerful songs of the album, the doleful Woman You’ve Been Dreaming Of and contemplative Picture In A Frame, work so well because, by holding back on raw power, Hart delivers such an intimate and personal performance that the listener is simply enthralled. With Fire On The Floor, Hart has consolidated her reputation as a powerhouse vocalist, and by introducing more jazz and soul elements into her music she has confirmed that she is no one-trick-pony.