Heart – “Beautiful Broken” (Concord Records)
With over 35 million records sold worldwide and a legacy that goes back to the mid 70s, the Heart sisters, Anne and Nancy Wilson are probably two of the most iconic female rockers ever. Now returning with their 16th album, they present 3 brand new tracks to a new generation, as well as 7 revised and rerecorded classics from their 3 early 80s albums, “Passionworks”, “Private Audition” and “Bebe Le Strange”. 4 years in the making and highly anticipated, the new material features a guest vocal contribution from Metallica’s James Hetfield on the hard rockin title track, and the second track ‘Two’ is sung by Nancy and penned by hip-hop artist, Ne-Yo, reputedly also a Heart fan. Of the classics like ‘City’s Burning’ and ‘Sweet Darlin’, most have been live favorites for the Wilson sisters, but it was felt that the production style and technology of the 80s somehow left out the emotional core, or in the case of the latter, lacked something originally which this time around was provided by legendary arranger (whose work includes The Rolling Stones and Elton John) Paul Buckmaster in the form of string arrangements. In fact, the overall goal of the album was to strip away the tec and (over) engineering and return the material to its originally envisioned human(e) feeling. “Beautiful Broken” does that superbly especially on ‘Johnny Moon’ where the natural guitar and piano tones vividly unfold to the discerning listener. Beyond that, what makes this release even more impressive is the 70s feel throughout all the songs, right down to new tracks like ‘I Jump’, whose karmic majesty owed to Zepp is undeniable and brought to life once again by the dramatic string arrangements of Buckmaster. “Beautiful Broken” may not be metal for muthas, but its rock heritage will appeal to connoisseurs of the beautiful and classy vision put forward by this legendary sister act.