Heart: Red Velvet Car


RIYL: Led Zeppelin, Janis Joplin, classic Heart

If you’re a fan of Heart, you probably have an affinity for their early stuff, as in the Dreamboat Annie days. Or you might have been hooked in the ‘80s, when, as singer Ann Wilson says, the band “made a devil’s bargain” – i.e. they wrote pop songs that the label wanted them to, such as “Never” and “If Looks Could Kill.” Not that those songs were bad; in fact, some would argue that this is when Heart really arrived. Still, these sisters and their band mates appear to long for the “good old days,” when they could emulate their biggest inspiration, Led Zeppelin. And now with Red Velvet Car, Heart’s first studio album since Jupiter’s Darling in 2004, they have succeeded. A big reason is producer Ben Mink, who has re-created the best of the “old” Heart but has given it a slick, current feel as well. The songwriting is top-notch, and while Ann Wilson’s voice is showing signs of weathering, you can put this album up against any heritage act’s new material and it will stand up, and above, just about anything.

“There You Go” kicks off with a similar rhythmic riff to one of Heart’s biggest hits, “Straight On,” and it’s a solid start. And the Zeppelin vibe is in full glory on “WTF,” “Queen City,” and in particular on “Death Valley,” with Nancy Wilson emulating Jimmy Page’s tone and playing with sick precision. But the band shines big on the title track, on which Ann belts it out like in her heyday, and on a track Nancy sings, the acoustic driven “Hey You.” “Safronias Monk” feels like 1978, and the closer, “Sand,” also sounds like classic Heart, but maybe more like an anthem from the ‘80s. It can’t be easy to say you want to go back to your roots and actually do it, but Heart appears to have done just that. And despite the fact that the sisters Wilson have been rolling along for years on tour, Red Velvet Car is the type of effort that should, and might, win “comeback of the year” awards. (Sony Legacy 2010)

Heart website

  

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