CD REVIEW: HEART – Beautiful Broken
Concord Music Group
8 July, 2016
Reviewed by Shane Pinnegar
By the time a band reaches Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame inductee status, they’re usually in legacy protection mode – more interested in merch and touring income and releasing an endless succession of greatest hits albums, rather than remembering where they came from and what inspired them to pick up a guitar or microphone in the first place.
Not so Heart: Beautiful Broken is their sixteenth album, and third this decade alone, coming four years after the patchy Fanatic. No such qualms here, though: Beautiful Broken finds the sisters Wilson in embarrassingly (for their peers) good form.
Once upon a time Heart meant to some people the folky whimsy of Dog And Butterfly, the open-road rock of Barracuda to others, and the hairsprayed power ballad years to another generation altogether, and Ann and Nancy gently pull at all the threads of the varied career here: the delicate acoustic ‘70s of Two; the pop Zeppelin of I Jump; the riff-led anthem that is opener, title track and lead single Beautiful Broken itself – which comes complete with unmistakable guest backing vocals from Metallica’s James Hetfield.
Many of the songs present will be familiar to long-time Heart fans: Citys Burning was originally on 1982’s Private Audition, Beautiful Broken was a bonus track on Fanatic, Sweet Darlin’ – originally from Bebe Le Strange – appears here laden with a gorgeous Paul Buckmaster string arrangement, One Word – also from Private Audition – here adds a pinch of Zeppelin and Dylan to another beautiful arrangement. You can call them reworkings of older tracks, though a better label might be transformations.
The result could have been a disparate mishmash of a forty-plus year career, but instead it’s a delicately crafted and beautiful piece of work, all held together by the interplay between the Wilsons. The never-better vocals of Ann and the always stunning playing and co-production (alongside bassist Dan Rothchild, son of legendary Doors producer Paul) of Nancy are intuitively connected, producing an end result that is greater even than the sum of their impressive parts.
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