By: Gus Griesinger
Heart has released their 14th studio album titled “Fanatic” on Legacy Recordings. Ann and Nancy Wilson enlisted Ben Mink, once again, to help steer the ship on this release. Mink also produced Ann Wilson’s solo release “Hope & Glory” in 2006 and Hearts’ last studio effort “Red Velvet Car” in 2010. He also handled most of the string instruments (with the exception of guitars and mandolins which were handled by both him and Nancy Wilson) and keyboard duties on “Fanatic.” The Wilson’s also asked former touring bassist Rik Markman to handle the bass on these recorded tracks and longtime drummer Ben Smith was responsible for all percussion duties.
The first single and title track “Fanatic” contains crunchier guitars with that sweet harmony that only the Wilson sisters can provide. Mink adds some sonic mangling that takes the track in a different direction but funnels it back to where it belongs.
“Dear Old America" is one of the finest crafted songs Heart has done since maybe “Oldest Story in the World" off of 2004’s “Jupiter’s Darling.” It's a poetic masterpiece and with Nancy Wilson and Mink on guitar, they drive the song along with Ann’s majestic voice.
Nancy Wilson takes lead vocals on “Walkin’ Good" with contemporary artist Sara McLachlan. It’s unusual that Heart invites guest musicians on their recordings, but it’s a nice switch here. McLachlan adds a different element and helps the acoustic track find its way. Ann provides a nice soothing flute for this song.
The dirty and slow tempo “Skin & Bones” is a track that also has a hard driving guitar. This is one of the more interesting songs on the album.
Bassist Rik Markman and longtime drummer Ben Smith really add their element on the track “A Million Miles.” Mink adds a steady keyboard sound throughout as well.
“Mashallah!” is Ann’s signature song on this release. Her powerful voice along with the occasional harmonizing vocals from Nancy Wilson makes this one of my favorites on "Fanatic."
I was lucky enough to see “59 Crunch" performed earlier this summer. It’s probably the most rocking song on “Fanatic.”
The Wilsons show their love for Vancouver (who were the first town that really accepted them) with “Rock Deep (Vancouver)." This tune is a deep meaning composition that takes the Wilson sisters all the way to the beginning of their careers. I’m sure this song may have the most meaning of all the tracks on this CD.
In the liner notes, each song has a story of the creation process and where and how it was recorded. It gives a little added story behind the story for a unique perspective in the creative process. I wish more artists would do that.
The Wilson sisters and Mink upped the tempo and took a different direction on this release. There's lot more variety here than what was on “Red Velvet Car.” This should satisfy the masses who were looking for a more 'rocking’ album release from the Wilson sisters. You can say that the first ladies of rock delivered in a big way!