(AP) -- Beth Hart reveals her innermost self on "War In My Mind," an intense, candid and moving album where the only filter is the one ensuring quality songs with emotions that seep deeply into every aspect of the grooves.
Hart, who has released a long string of accomplished solo recordings as well as winning collaborations with guitar slinger Joe Bonamassa, says she "just let it be what it is," depicting her reality -- the present and the past -- with no pretenses.
Accompanying herself on piano and supported by producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Gary Clark Jr.) and an ace band including Vinnie Colaiuta and Tim Pierce, Hart sings with her usual power but also with plenty of sensibility and grace.
"Sister Dear" is an especially heartrending performance about a sibling who succumbed to AIDS complications years ago. It has a purity of feeling even such direct personal tributes rarely achieve.
Elsewhere, Hart and her characters in song -- whether rolling with the punches, grappling with the consequences of love, railing against their fates or struggling to avoid getting overwhelmed -- make their case frankly.
The jazzy "Without Words In the Way" is resigned, a gospel choir illuminates the resilient "Let It Grow" and Cavallo rightly pegged the bluesy epic "Rub Me for Luck" as apt for a James Bond film.
"Sugar Shack" thunders and sizzles, "Woman Down" is a tour de force and on album closer "I Need A Hero," with only her piano tugging along, Hart seemingly comes to terms with herself.
Her struggles may be internal but, by venting in song, Hart again confirms the force of music and its therapeutic value.