You'd think that by now I wouldn't
be surprised when Heart (fronted since 1975 by
and Nancy Wilson) release another new album and
it's just as fresh and vibrant as their first one, Dreamboat Annie in 1976. But how do they
do that? That was 36 years, 14 albums and hundreds of live concerts ago!
Right now, I'm listening to Fanatic
(release date 10/02/12) for what must surely be at least the tenth time, and I
still can't figure out how they do it. But they do, and that's really all that
Like all Heart albums, Fanatic
delivers a range of styles (once again bringing up the how-do-they-do-that
question) making each seem a perfectly natural fit for them.
Want some good ol' Heart hard rock?
You've get it right from the top with the title song. Then there's
"Mashalla" (pronounced mosh-uh-LAH) and "59 Crunch." Both
cause me to wonder, as Ann hits the high notes with as much strength as she did
in 1976, how can she still do that?
Blues rock, anyone? "Corduroy
Road" will please you. Progressive? "A Million Miles" has more
than a hint of it. Feeling folk-y? Try "Walkin' Good," to which Sarah
McLachlan lends vocals and blends with Ann and Nancy so well, you'd
think she was another Wilson sister. Ballad-style story songs? "Rock Deep
(Vancouver)" and "Pennsylvania" are here.
Strings and things
Photo by Kevin Winter / Getty
If they gave an award for best use
of a string section on a rock album, Fanatic would win it. There's
strings and acoustic guitar ("Walkin' Good"); strings and fuzzed up
electric slide guitar ("Good Old America"). There would also be an
award for best use of horns and techno-funk ("A Million Miles").
continues the theme established with 2010's Red Velvet Car, with a predominance of
autobiographical themes. "Rock Deep (Vancouver)" recounts Heart's
earliest days when they were making it big in Canada and wondering if they'd
ever be able to break through south of the border. "Dear Old America"
comes directly from the Wilson sisters' upbringing as military brats, daughters
of a Marine Corps officer dad. "Walkin' Good" is about what Ann calls
Nancy's devotion to "the idea of love and especially the idea of romantic
love. There is no way you could ever convince her that it's not real."
Bests and ... other bests
It's hard to pick favorites. This
is one of those rare few albums which I listen to from beginning to end each
time, with no track skipping. I really like "Mashallah," probably
because it reminds of early favorites like "Crazy on You" and
"White Lightning and Wine." But then I like "A Million
Miles" for precisely the opposite reason: musically, it isn't something
you would expect, which makes it all the more fun. I wasn't sure at first what
I thought about "Walkin' Good" but it has grown on me to such an
extent that it would be a favorite, if I had to pick favorites. And I like
"Fanatic" just because it such a good serving of that distinctive
genre I call Heart rock.
Bottom line: they did it in the
mid-70s, and in every decade since. The did (and do) it in their own unique
way. The do it as well today as they did all those years ago. How do they do
it? Don't know, don't care. Just very glad that they're still doing it, and
hope they'll do it again soon!
CD Track List
2. "Dear Old America"
3. "Walkin' Good"
(featuring Sarah McLachlan)
4. "Skin And Bones"
5. "A Million Miles"
8. "Rock Deep
9. "59 Crunch"
10. "Corduroy Road"
Release date 10/2/12,
Legacy Recordings, available on CD, LP, MP3