HEART – Beautiful Broken (2016)
Wilson sisters HEART have burst back onto the scene to unleash their latest record “Beautiful Broken” tomorrow July 8th, featuring a fusion of original tunes and fresh takes on familiar tracks. It brings the band back to their roots while simultaneously exposing them to a whole new generation of music enthusiasts.
Classic rockers re-record their golden-age catalogs for many reasons. ‘Spot-the-difference’ recreations are often for licensing purposes, while acoustic or symphonic reexaminations are a way to stay creatively engaged with overly familiar songs.
Heart‘s not like most classic rock bands, however.
And so, even though “Beautiful Broken” features seven re-dos of older songs, the band’s motivation for re-imagination is purely artistic: due to a dissatisfaction with production or execution, principal members Ann and Nancy Wilson wanted a second chance to tackle a selection of the band’s early ’80s songs.
The results are engaging and energized.
Heavy riffs arrest alongside penetrating percussion at the start of the album’s eponymous opening anthem before a volley of vigorous vocals glides in to grip in the verse. An onslaught of intense instrumentation steals the spotlight around the midway mark, making a powerful impact on the way to a colourful climactic chorus.
“Two” tones things down then with gentle singing atop poignant pianos. The ambience remains emotional as the music and melody drift delicately forward, enthralling through to a light yet enlivening ending.
“Sweet Darlin’” stays serene next, showcasing cool keys and stirring strings underneath a remarkably resonant refrain. “I Jump” adopts an orchestral edge afterwards as delightfully dramatic music mesmerises amid a hard-hitting harmony. The result is a truly thrilling undertaking ahead of the ominous introduction of “Johnny Moon”. This solemn song exhibits a sobering sound that entices until the sonorous serenade of “Heaven” swoops in to excite beside instrumentation that builds bracingly.
“City’s Burning” follows as a fantastically fiery affair which rivets with its rousing refrain and invigorating guitars. “Down on Me” heads back in a direr direction when it’s done, displaying a sombre sensibility as it unfolds.
The tender tone of “One Wood” relaxes in its wake, establishing a soothing atmosphere that lingers into Passionworks‘ “Language of Love” which have its dated sonic gloss stripped away in a lighter approach with delicate strings arranged by Elton John and Rolling Stones collaborator Paul Buckmaster. The pleasant piece that ensues brings the compilation to a captivatingly calm conclusion.
Heart have delivered a diverse and endearing amalgamation of melodies that rests extremely easy on the ears. The superbly expressive execution and accessible style of each song is sure to satisfy a large listenership.
In a fair world, new track “Beautiful Broken” (featuring James Hetfield of Metallica on guest vocals) would be blasting out of car radios all summer. The same goes for the rest of the album. And despite there’s re-worked old songs it’s incorrect to characterize “Beautiful Broken” as an exercise in nostalgia, because Heart aren’t resting on their laurels or coasting on past achievements. They’re inspired by their own art and songwriting.
In fact, by digging into the nooks and crannies of their catalog, they’ve discovered new, fresh insights and creative motivation.
01 – Beautiful Broken
02 – Two
03 – Sweet Darlin’
04 – I Jump
05 – Johnny Moon
06 – Heaven
07 – City’s Burning
08 – Down On Me
09 – One Word
10 – Language Of Love
Ann Wilson – Vocals, Autoharp, Flute
Nancy Wilson – Vocals, Guitar, Autoharp, Handclapping
Craig Bartock – Guitar, Vocals (Background)
Chris Joyner – Guitar, Keyboards, Synthesizer
Dan Rothchild – Bass, Guitar, Guitar, Keyboards
Ben Smith – Drums, Percussion, Snaps
Paul Buckmaster – String Arrangements
Hungarian Studio Orchestra – Strings
James Hetfield (Metallica) – guest Vocals