Heart presents something blue, borrowed and new on their 16th studio album, Beautiful Broken. The Wilson sisters actually borrow from themselves as they rework a bunch of tunes from the past, as well as sprinkling in a few new ones, bluesy ballads and ballsy rockers.
The title track, which first appeared as a bonus track on the band's 2012 album Fanatic, has been upgraded to roar out of the gate with Ann Wilson go one-to-one with Metallica's main growler James Hetfield. The band's 1980 album Bébé le Strange is represented here with a slightly heavier "Down On Me" presented and more a string-intensive "Sweet Darlin." Tracks from 1982's Private Audition and 1983's Passionworks are also revisited.
Remakes of songs like these, decades on, is a risky gamble for an aging original singer. It's too easy to hear when a singer's range descends over the years, lacking the highs but more mature. But Ann Wilson, whose performance of "Stairway To Heaven" in 2012 brought Robert Plant to tears, is an anomaly and on this record, she's never sounded better.
Highlights on Beautiful Broken include a studio version of a very Led Zeppelin-influenced Middle-Eastern stomp called "Heaven" from the 2003 Alive In Seattle album. And then there's Nancy Wilson singing "Two," a piano-driven ballad written by R&B singer Ne-Yo. There's nothing broken about those two. Reworking old songs and bringing in new ones is indeed a sly and suave angle for the Rock & Roll Hall of Famers. And another good reason to keep the album format alive.
~ Ralph Greco, Jr.