I don’t know which is harder to believe: the fact that it’s been 37 years since Heart’s debut album Dreamboat Annie was released or the fact that they still manage to put out amazing material today. Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart are at a point in their career where they don’t necessarily need to put out new music, but they want to. The commercial success enjoyed in the late 70s and again in the late 80s may not be there, but these talented ladies are at a much more rewarding point in their long career. They are doing things their way and they haven’t sounded happier.
Heart’s new album Fanatic is the follow-up to 2010’s Red Velvet Car, their first Top 10 album in 20 years. That album was also praised highly by both fans and critics. Fanatic has the Wilson sisters cranking up the amps and rocking a bit harder than they did on their last album. There are also some new elements being incorporated into their music
added yet another layer of complexity to these talented ladies.
The album opens with the title track and its distorted riff intro lets you know that this is going to be interesting. This is a killer track with its psychedelic feel and crunchy guitar tone. “Dear Old America” tells the tale of a father returning home from war. An interesting note about the song found in the album’s liner notes. The tempo switches to double time midway through the song. It seems that this happened accidentally due to a computer tempo error, but the band liked it and kept it that way.
“A Million Miles Away” is a very interesting song with its incorporation of electronic beats and elements not usually found on a Heart album. The ladies kick it old school in the Zepplinesque “Mashallah!” which is amazing. The addition of a string section in the song just takes elevates this rocking number to another level. What’s that? You need some more rock from the Wilson sisters? Well, there’s also “59 Crunch” and it won’t disappoint.
“Pennsylvania” brings us our first ballad with a bit of a rock edge. A haunting song lyrically and the guitar tone adds such an element to the song to compliment Ann’s amazing vocal delivery. On a gentler note, “Rock Deep (Vancouver)” is a beautiful, gentle ballad and brings to mind “Dog and Butterfly” with its peaceful acoustic side. Again, the use of strings on this song gets a major thumbs up. It’s an absolutely gorgeous song. It’s amazing how the Wilson sisters can tell a story in three and a half minutes.
Overall, I don’t think there’s a bad song on here. You know how a band will put out an album and there are one or two tracks that just seem to feel like “filler” in order to make it a full album? You really don’t get that feel on Fanatic. Ann and Nancy definitely rock out on it, but they also manage to keep in touch with their folk roots as well. The guitars are loud and crunchy and distorted at times, but they always rock. I mentioned it before, but I will again. The strings used throughout this album add such a great element to the songs. What a great touch!
Ann Wilson, does this woman just keep getting better with age? She is definitely one of the most amazing voices ever in music and at times probably one of the most underappreciated as I don’t think she has ever gotten the credit she truly deserves. Nancy is no slouch either, but even though she knows how to rock, her vocals add such a tender element to compliment Ann’s voice. Their harmonies are top notch. So many young artists today should pay attention to these ladies and take note on how true talent can manage to keep a career going strong after almost 40 years.