Sunday, October 3, 2010

Tacoma Weekly: Red Velvet Car Review

Heart has created a lasting legacy for their work as veritable hard rockers of the late 70s, 80s, 90s and they continue to carry out their musical endeavors today.

Heart keeps their retro hard rocking ways alive on their first studio album in six years “Red Velvet Car.” Sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson are a little older now, a little wiser, and it shows. They say at this stage in their life they’ve got nothing to prove, which means “Red Velvet Car” is some of their most intimate, heartfelt and honest work to date.

Based almost solely in the sounds of acoustic stringed instruments, the Wilsons (accompanied with producer and musician Ben Mink) created a solid 10-track album that is a far cry from what many associate with “acoustic guitar music.”

Using a variety of instruments from throughout the world (including guitar, mandolin, dobro, banjo, fiddle, viola, cello and autoharp) the artists create a complex layering of sound that doesn’t shy away from Heart’s rocking roots. Classic vocal harmonies carry the Wilsons through their heartfelt perspectives on life and music.

Ann is a little more reserved vocally than in her heyday of piercing vocal riffs, and both women wear their age well – they are not trying to hold on too tightly to the past but aren’t trying to completely re-invent themselves, either.

Starting out big with “There You Go,” “Red Velvet Car” takes off on a ride through what is the culmination of the Wilsons’ personal lives and professional careers as musicians.

At times, Heart is brazen and full of energy, others they are calm and introspective, sometimes even woeful in their interpretations. Always, their musicianship, purpose and delivery are right on.

“Hey You” and “Sunflower” take on the more mellow, folksy sounds of the woman who clearly were influenced by the flowerchild, free loving ways of the 1960s.

“Wheels” has a racing pace that harkens back to Heart’s 1977 hit “Barracuda” as Ann’s husky, raspy vocals belt out lyrics about taking off on the road. “We’ll run together/We’ll run forever / Out of here/ Riding the wheels.”

Closing song "Sand" is a newly recorded version of a song originally written and recorded by the Lovemongers, Ann and Nancy's 1990s acoustic side project.

As the 13th studio album for the band, its successful debut in August 2010 makes “Red Velvet Car” the most successful chart debut for a Heart album in their career. Heart is currently on tour in support of the album.


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