Written by Lucas Jones
Heart is a band that is synonymous with Rock and Roll. Over four decades, the powerful voice of Ann Wilson combined with the sometimes slick, sometimes heavy guitar work of sister Nancy has left an indelible mark on the rock scene. With the sister’s classic performance of “Stairway to Heaven” at the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors, and Heart’s induction into the class of 2013 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this staple of classic rock playlists everywhere showed that they have no intention of resting on their laurels. After reforming with new members in 2002, the band has been busy, putting out 8 studio and live albums before releasing their newest work, Beautiful Broken in July 2016. Featuring some new track alongside re-worked older songs, this album is an attempt to write new music, but also correct what the band felt was poor production on some older tracks.
The album kicks off with the title track, adding the vocal prowess of James Hetfield from Metallica to an already heavy track that evokes memories of late 80’s Heart. Hetfield is worked well into the vocal track, bringing a gritty, intense sound to the song. The next two tracks, The new song “Two” and the old song “Sweet Darlin’”, are decidedly softer songs, showcasing Ann’s still incredible voice, and the arrangement capabilities of the band. The backing vocals, piano, and other musical layers make for very full sounding tracks.
“I Jump” and “Johnny Moon” are standout tracks in the middle of the album for their instrumentation alone. The guitar in “I Jump” holds down a heavy, chunky rhythm, and jumps to an airy, cinematic clean sound for “Johnny Moon”, but still leaves room for a very cool swell-style intro, and a reverse delay solo that will definitely send listeners heads spinning, due to the uncommon sound that type of delay produces. “Heaven” and “City’s Burning” keep the energy up with a rock forward sound, with “Heaven” incorporating a Zeppeln-esqe structure and droning sitar to set the tone, and “City’s Burning” being turned into a grungy, rumbling, hard rock track.
All in all, this album is one that Heart fans will love. By writing new music, and re-doing several old deep cuts, they manage to successfully find the bridge between “old hits or new songs”, which is a problem that plagues many classic artists. The new tracks are killer, and the old tracks sound clean and updated, yet still carry their original charm. Beautiful Broken is an album that better be in your summer playlist, for its classic vibes and wide modern appeal.
Rating 8 out of 10