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Heart - Beautiful Broken Award winner

Beautiful Broken
by Michael Bischoff at 14 January 2017, 7:03 AM

Not being overly familiar with HEART's back catalogue I was surprised to find that this is not an album of entirely new material but rather a sort of re-interpretation and reproduced collection of previously released and unreleased songs, some slightly re arranged while others were recorded again with added instrumentation. Because of this I cannot really compare and contrast these songs to their original versions but merely attempt to listen to these songs on their own merit. Starting off with “Beautiful Broken” the lead in track to the album is a song that comes storming straight out of the gate into a hardrock song with a highly melodic and energy inducing riff and a hard grooving forward drive. The track is interspersed with subtle synths and a guest appearance in the backup vocal department by non- other than James Hetfield of Metallica fame, the combination of James and Ann Wilsons vocals harmonising perfectly in the chorus.

 “Two” is the 2nd song on the album and is the complete opposite to the starting track in that instead of storming out of the gate it starts of slowly with only Ann Wilsons vocals and strong piano melody. About a minute into the song a short slide on the bass guitar brings in the drums that introduce a steady but slow groove accompanied only by the bass and the piano. Although only the 2nd track this is another very strong song showing off the bands variety of styles straight from the onset. You can tell that the musicians involved here have been doing this for some time with the songwriting being particularly strong.

Third song “Sweet Darlin” is in a similar vein to the second song in that it is another slow track but instead of only bass and piano it is accompanied by what sounds like a whole string section. Although this is also a strong song it comes across as a bit too saccharine for my taste with a cheesy but well placed chorus to round it off. What is noticeable is the expensive sounding and glossy production that still manages to place a certain sense of grit onto the instrumentation with a particular mention going to the more than stellar rhythm section of bass guitar and drums.

“I jump” is the 4th song on offer and one that has a certain progressive feel to it in that there are many instruments used in the track.The song does not have a straight forward rhythm but rather a structure that twists and turns yet still manages to be cohesive and understandable.

Fifth song “Johnny Moon” is a song that for me has a strong southern feel interlaced with country and melodic blues and jazz elements as well as a well-placed piano underlying the general groove of the track. Somehow this song reminds me of Black Velvet by Alannah Myles in that it has a similar feel and atmosphere to it.

“Heaven” has a strong oriental vibe starting of just with vocals and what sounds like a sitar and an ominous atmosphere before the bass and drums come in subtlety before slowly speeding up the song getting more and more melodic as it goes along. This is yet another interestingly structured almost progressive song with a variety of instruments both exotic and traditional and a guitar solo performed on what sounds like a slide guitar. Whereas the previous song had a somewhat southern feel this track gives you the feeling of being in a tropical forest surrounded by exotic sounds. In fact the further the album progresses the denser it becomes. As noted before the band accompanying the HEART sisters here are professional musicians with years of experience among them, the interplay between all the various instruments being particularly impressive.

I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by this album as it presented me something that I was not expecting. Admittedly there are a few songs at the beginning of the album that are a bit too overproduced and glossy but the further you get into the record the more interesting it becomes. So, in closing I would recommend this to listeners with an open mind who should definitely give this a listen and even though it is not Metal this album would be a good investment and a more than healthy addition to even the most hardened Metal Heads record collection.

Songwriting: 9/10
Originality: 8/10
Memorability: 8/10
Production: 9/10

4 Star Rating

1. Beautiful Broken (feat. James Hetfield)
2. Two
3. Sweet Darlin
4. I jump
5. Johnny Moon
6. Heaven
7. City’s Burning
8. Down on Me
9. One Word
10. Language of Love
Ann Wilson  – Lead and backing vocals, Autoharp.
Nancy Wilson  – Acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, lead and backing vocals, marxophone and Autoharp.
Craig Bartock - Guitars.
Chris Joyner – Piano and Synthesizers.
Dan Rothchild – Bass, moog bass, Hammond B3, background vocals, additional piano and Lap steel guitar.
Ben Smith – Drums and percussion.
Record Label: Concord Music Group


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Edited 30 January 2023

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