For their sixteenth album, Rock & Roll Hall of Fame legends Heart have put together a fine platter of songs that contain a handful of new tracks as well as re-recorded & re-imagined versions of a few others from their deep catalog. Beautiful Broken features the line-up of Ann Wilson (lead vocals, flute, autoharp), Nancy Wilson (guitars, vocals, autoharp), Ben Smith (drums), Craig Bartock (guitars, backing vocals), Chris Joyner (keyboards, backing vocals), and Dan Rothchild (bass, backing vocals, keyboards, guitar, percussion).
The one thing you notice as you make your first trip through Beautiful Broken is the wealth of variety on hand for this outing. Combining elements of hard rock, pop, lush ballads, blues, and some folk, there's a little something for everyone here, one of the things that Heart have always been very good at. The opening title cut blasts away with furious hard rock power chords and a thrilling vocal duet between Ann & Metallica's James Hetfield, but then things quickly settle down for the gorgeous ballad "Two", which sees sister Nancy take over the lead vocal for one of the best Heart ballads in many years, and a song that has definite hit potential. A slightly re-imagined "Sweet Darling" sees the band going into crossover territory, and the formula works, while the new piece "I Jump" is grand, majestic hard rock with some prog tendencies, the influence of Led Zeppelin flying high on this triumphant track that features symphonic keyboard & string arrangements, heavy riffs, and Ann's soaring vocals. "Johnny Moon", "Language of Love", "City's Burning", and a bluesy "Down on Me" are given updated treatment with some new twists, though it will be up to the listener to decide whether they prefer the original versions, especially "City's Burning" which is a bit heavier on Private Audition. "Heaven" is absolutely wonderful here, with its 'folk meets rock' arrangement and sizzling slide guitar, and "One Word" is another tune where Nancy again is featured on lead vocals, a song she also wrote that has a breezy pop feel to it with great melodies.
Though not quite the raucous return to hard rock that Fanatic was, Beautiful Broken is still a very enjoyable collection of strong new material and re-imagined nuggets from the past by a band that always seems to deliver class no matter what they do. Seattle's Heart are an American treasure, and Beautiful Broken is another reason why.
See more about this release on our recent YouTube show!
1) Beautiful Broken
3) Sweet Darlin'
4) I Jump
5) Johnny Moon
7) City's Burning
8) Down on Me
9) One Word
10) Language of Love