Beth Hart has crafted a reputation for scalding, Joplin-esque barnburners. But “Baddest Blues” is nothing like that.
Instead, she moves into a quieter, more contemplative (though no less dangerous and emotionally raw) place, tracing the same rocky path that Billie Holiday once walked. She sounds at once completely fragile, and yet unwilling to bend, damaged but still prideful.
Put in more modern terms: “Baddest Blues” boasts all of the junkie darkness of Amy Winehouse, but none of the sad nihilism. You screw with this girl for long enough, and you’ll end up drawing back a bloody stump.
“Baddest Blues” is part of the forthcoming sampler Where Blues Meets Rock Vol. 9, due Junuary 20, 2014 via Provogue. Also included are tracks from Robben Ford, Walter Trout, Robert Cray, Jonny Lang, Gov’t Mule, Eric Johnson, Omar Dykes, The Rides [featuring Stephen Stills], Popa Chubby and Leslie West, among others.