Album Review: Beth Hart – A Tribute to Led Zeppelin

The idea of Beth Hart releasing a covers album dedicated to Led Zeppelin is a long overdue match made in heaven. Taking on some of rock’s best known and well-loved songs with an iconic voice is no mean feat. But then again, Beth Hart has that voice. If anyone was going to do prime Robert Plant justice, the top of that list would be Ms Hart.

A Tribute to Led Zeppelin is exactly what it says on the tin. You can feel her love and respect for Messrs Plant, Page, Jones and Bonham. She’s not reinterpreted the music to make it into her own, instead just subtly tweaking it to give her own spin and fit her voice but still remain faithful to all those wondrous songs. Zeppelin may have been entrenched in her life and even intertwined in her life between her debut album releasing on Atlantic Records (the same label which launched Zeppelin) and performing in front of the surviving members but if she had released this earlier in her career, it simply wouldn’t have the same heft as it does here. There’s a boldness and emotional maturity in Hart’s vocals which have only grown stronger with each release and here it bolsters the songs into beefier numbers where it becomes impossible to pick a highlight.

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Most of the tracklist may very familiar to even the most casual of Led Zeppelin listeners and some may have been over-played over the years but each of them are great songs. Thankfully, Hart has avoided “Rock and Roll” because it seems every band covers that nowadays. As the album screams into life with the fuzz-drenched “Whole Lotta Love”, the second Hart’s vocals roar into focus, it will silence any doubters who may have been curiously listening. “Kashmir” and “Stairway to Heaven” continue to sound as grandiose as they ever have and the latter may have become cliché but at the end of the day, it’s still one of the greatest songs human beings have created and when her band kick in for that solo, it’s just as spine-tingling as the original.

Whilst Hart does tap into the more bombastic end of her range and without trying to emulate Plant, she does bring a sandpaper-y roughness as she attacks those opening numbers. Meanwhile, “The Crunge” with its rapid-fire delivery and the bouncy “Dancing Days” allows her to hit a softer, more traditional level you’d expect on her original material. Elsewhere, “No Quarter” sounds as ethereal as the original and there’s a similar haunting to “The Rain Song” where she taps into the more tender end of her range as the orchestral arrangements which have permeated the album take centre stage for the final bow.

However, it’s in “Babe I’m Gonna Leave You” where Hart somehow manages, once again, to best herself and provide some of the best vocal work of her career. As anguish and frustration fuse into one, the screams are stunningly breath-taking and hair-raising all at once. Constantly upping the ante throughout the album, this could have worked so well as the crescendo of the album but similarly, it’s a relieving thought to know there’s more of the album to indulge in.

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Like her original albums, Hart is surrounded by proficient musicians who know the material inside-out and they play together as one with the orchestral punctuation adding greater depth to incredibly familiar songs. Bouncing off warm, pristine production lends even more credibility to the songs to allow it the grace of an old-school feel but still modern. A Tribute to Led Zeppelin has some of Hart’s best performances to date and while some may brush off a covers album, it’s still a worthwhile listen. The tracklist doesn’t take too many risks for fear of scaring off a casual listener (if there was to be a second edition, that’s where you start plumbing the depths a bit more) and musically it doesn’t veer too far away from the source material. But that was never the intention with an album like this. Instead, Beth Hart is just like so many of us – worships at the altar of a mythological band.

Header image by Roxanne de Roode

A Tribute to Led Zeppelin is released on 25th February

Check out all the bands we review in 2022 on our Spotify and YouTube playlists!

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January 5, 2023 12:42 AM

[…] Beth Hart – A Tribute to Led Zeppelin. Anyone can cover Led Zeppelin. But to do it well, especially on a vocal level? Only few can. Ms Hart paying homage to one of the most influential bands of all time isn’t revelatory but she does every song on that album justice. […]