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Sunday, July 10, 2016

ALBUM REVIEW: Heart's new/old release Beautiful Broken reinvigorates classics and gives hope for the future

Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of famers Heart are back after a four year absence with their 16th album ‘Beautiful Broken’.
But, it’s Not so much a new album, there’s only three new tracks on it, but an album where the Wilson sisters revisit songs from their 80’s albums Bebe Le Strange, Private Audition and Passionworks and give them an updated, and in some cases, a less ‘produced’ sound and strip them down to great effect.

Album opener ‘Beautiful Broken’ was actually an extra track from their last album Frantic but this version features a vocal contribution from a certain Mr. James Hetfield. As Ann herself says he certainly adds a bit of bite to the song and it has a driving riff with a nice bass line running through it.

Track two, strangely enough called ‘Two’ is the first new song and it’s a classic Heart love song. Sung by Nancy and a story about two people who just click and make each other happy despite what others may think. Such a powerful song it is that it made a crowd of hardened Glasgow punters go completely quiet at a recent gig.

‘Sweet Darlin’ follows and as the title suggests is another love song. The original piano led version has been updated with a wonderful string arrangement that gives the song a lot more depth. Both these songs may well feature heavily at couple’s only kitchen parties so expect a baby boom sometime around April 2017!

‘I Jump’ is the second new offering and is heavily influenced by Ann and Nancy’s love of all things Led Zeppelin. A very 70’s sounding track with Ann singing in a lower register and with that Kashmir era feel to it. A very good song which when combined with ‘Two’ makes you wonder why they didn’t bring out an album of entirely new material!

‘Johnny Moon’ is a slow tempo number with a nice groove to it. Nice harmony vocals from the sisters and rather psychedelic guitar work make this an interesting update.

The psychedelic feel continues on ‘Heaven’ that also has a very 70’s feel to start before a rhythmic beat and Ann’s powerful vocals take over. It has a nice slide guitar solo on it and is another great tune.

‘City’s Burning’ is a slower tempo version than the original which again has that Led Zeppelin vibe to it with bass and drums at the forefront. With a funky piano and a Jimmy Page style solo this is a very good update and almost sounds like a new song.

‘Down on Me’ is a bluesy number with wonderful passionate and sensual vocal delivery from Ann. The original had an almost Janis Joplan sound but this is a lot more current and proves that Ann’s voice just seems to get better with age.

Originally sung by Nancy ‘One Word’ again has a more updated modern sound to it and not so much in the vein of the Carpenters. Definitely needed re-recorded and benefits greatly from it.

The album closes with “Language of Love” a typical easy listening Heart love song.

All in all this is a very good album but the strength of the new songs makes you hope that a brand new album may not to too long in the making.

Review by Andy Gillen

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