Monday, August 30, 2010
Red Velvet Car Brings Heart Full Circle
Storytelling is an art form that is slowly fading away in today’s music industry, but not if Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart have their say. The Wilson sisters, over their 30 plus year career, have given us such lyrical classics as “Dog and Butterfly” and “Dreamboat Annie”. The eighties came along and a change came over the sisters. The focus suddenly became less centered on crafting personal lyrical gems and more on cleavage and big hair. It was an educational experience to say the least.
The changes in the industry in the eighties and nineties did cause the girls to stop and look at what was going on. They regained their focus and started to remold the legacy that they has established. The focus went back to writing personal and meaningful songs. It looks as if things have come full circle on their newest release entitled “Red Velvet Car”.
Heart is at a very unique point in their career where they don’t have to record, but they want to. There are still a lot of unpinned lyrical gems floating around in the heads of Ann and Nancy. What better place to start than returning to the home of their original label. This CD was recorded for Legacy Recordings which is part of the Sony Music Entertainment family. The band recording their debut album all the way through 1983’s “Passion works” under the Sony flagship, so this is a homecoming for them.
“Red Velvet Car” contains probably the most personal and introspective lyrics since those gems from their early seventies and all around their strongest CD in years. The lead off track entitled “There You Go” sets the tone of the CD with its unique arrangement of instruments and lyrical warnings. It is a very unique song that sounds refreshingly different for the band.
Radio has been all over the track “WTF” and for good reason. It’s a power rocker with Ann’s powerful vocal interpretation of the lyrics taking it to another level. “Red Velvet Car”, my personal favorite on the CD, is a very sexy slow song. The string section in the background of this song adds a profound layer to this song that just helps it transcend to another level.
Nancy takes over vocals on “Hey You” and just may be one of the best songs that she has ever written. It tells of a love come and gone and the being thankful for what was, but not being bitter or angry during this process. The addition of Nancy on mandolin adds a nice touch to this very Sheryl Crowish song.
“Queen City” pays homage to Seattle where the Wilson sisters grew up and where Ann lives today. “Safronia’s Mark” is another lyrical gem that is about the sister’s great, great, great grandmother from the Civil War era. It’s a beautifully arranged song that is another standout on the CD. Speaking of songs written about family members, “Sunflower” was written by Nancy about Ann and given to her as a birthday gift. Wow and to think that all I ever got from my sister was a card.
The last track entitled “Sand” is a new recording originally done by the girls sideproject The Lovemongers. The song, even though previously recorded, had never truly felt complete. They rerecorded it for this CD and added some different instruments and the song has finally seen its completed form. It’s a beautiful song that I thought couldn’t get any better than the original, but I was sorely mistaken.
Heart chose Ben Mink to produce this CD. They were familiar with his work since he produced Ann’s amazing solo CD entitled “Hope and Glory” back in 2007. He was a wise choice for this project as he continuously challenged the girls in ways that they haven’t been throughout all their recording years. As in challenging Ann’s vocals and asking her to hold back instead of just unleashing her vocals as she normally does. He even challenged Nancy’s play of the acoustic guitar some thirty plus years after she first picked one up.
“Red Velvet Car” is the first CD from the band since 2004’s “Jupiter’s Darling” release, but well worth the wait. Ann and Nancy may be a little older, but much, much wiser. Open the door and hope in this “Red Velvet Car” and be prepared for the musical ride of a lifetime.