[I'm on with my rock 'n' roll pal Kaedy Kiely at 97.1 The River every Wednesday at 6:50 and 7:50 a.m. to talk about the latest rock news. Tune in to see what's up!]
With the early summer release of box set “Strange Euphoria,” last month’s arrival of autobiography, “Kicking and Dreaming: A Story of Heart, Soul and Rock and Roll,” and now the unveiling of their 14th studio album, “Fanatic,” Ann and Nancy Wilson clearly have plenty of creative inspiration left.
Reteaming with producer Ben Mink, who twiddled the knobs for 2010’s “Red Velvet Car,” Heart makes it clear from the opening serrated guitar and prowling bass line of the title track that they can still teach the kids a thing or two about being proper rockers.
One of the few midtempo tracks, “Walkin’ Good,” is a charmer featuring Sarah McLachlan and a reminder of how strong the Wilson sisters are at crafting sweet melodies to complement their gut-kicking leads.
Ann Wilson’s distinctive shriek is as cutting and potent as ever on “A Million Miles,” while her and sister Nancy’s knack for dramatic and poetic lyricism is on display in “Pennsylvania,” a song carried by Nancy’s commanding electric guitar, occasional strings and Ann’s haunting vocals (“A bell is ringing in the courthouse square, rusted angels floating everywhere”).
The other “city” centric song, “Rock Deep (Vancouver)” is a thoughtful ballad that seems to resonate significantly with these Seattle girls. But soon enough, they’re turning up the amps again for “59 Crunch,” a Zeppelin-esque fist-pumper dripping with attitude.
So no, don’t expect the slickness of their ‘80s radio hits, enjoyably fluffy as they were. This is Heart unabashedly reaching back to their roots and doing it with a thunderous stomp.
By Melissa Ruggieri, Atlanta Music Scene