For the record: Heart
Heart 'Fanatic' (Legacy)
3 stars = Good
"Fanatic" sounds like it could have been recorded in 1978, which isn't a bad thing at all, as the last thing anyone wants Heart to do is try to sound like Katy Perry or Taylor Swift.
Heart made its mark back in the day by sounding as rough and tough as the boys, and now the Wilson sisters seemed determined to prove they haven't softened with age. "Fanatic" is glorious old-school hard rock record with Zeppelin-style riffs and Ann Wilson's powerful vocal chops, which are sounding ageless at 62.
There might not be a "Barracuda" or "Crazy on You" here, but songs like the title track, "Mashallah" and "A Million Miles" (with its Krautrock electronics) aren't far off. "Dear Old America" is an fiery anti-war/pro-military song with some nasty riffs that Nancy Wilson and Ben Mink draw from the Jimmy Page songbook. They even make math rock on "59 Crunch."
Heart changes the pace with a few midtempo tracks, the best of which is "Walkin' Good," a sunny Sheryl Crow-type pop song with a Sarah McLachlan backup vocal and a Jethro Tull-style flute.
Most of the credit might go to producer/guitarist/violinist Mink, who brings out the beauty of all these strings, and somehow makes "Fanatic" sound vintage and yet new. Put Heart down with Rush as the rare classic-rock band that still knows what it's doing.
ALSO NEW THIS WEEK:
• Muse, "The 2nd Law": The band's genre hopping, ostensibly the signifier of its artistic maturity, is in actuality the most concise description of its fatal flaw. Beginning in the comfy confines of alternative with "Showbiz," this trio has expanded into a chaotic mass of sound, a sound that has lost the straightforward power that once served the band well. "The 2nd Law" certainly isn't the career bomb that many might worry it to be, but that doesn't mean it's not any less of a red flag. (Brice Ezell)
• Beth Orton, "Sugaring Season": The singer-songwriter's sixth full-length and first since 2006 is her most straightforward, comfortable-in-her-own skin folk-pop affair, a consistent listen that isn't muddled by the fuss and distractions of celebrity DJ remixes and electro beats. (Arnold Pan)
• Tori Amos, "Gold Dust": Ms. Amos celebrates 20 years in the business with a fairly lackluster reworking of old and new favorites recorded with the Metropole Orchestra. What and who is this for, precisely? For the most part it only serves as a reminder that the original versions of these tracks are a hell of a lot better (save for "Flavor"). (Enio Chiola)
• Jackie Evancho, "Songs From the Silver Screen": For her fourth album, the 12-year-old singer from Richland applies her operatic vocals to such Hollywood standards as "Pure Imagination," "Some Enchanted Evening," "Can You Feel the Love Tonight" and "What a Wonderful World." The songs were featured in her PBS "Great Performances" special.
Other notable releases: The Mountain Goats, "Transcendental Youth"; Iris DeMent, "Sing the Delta"; Faith Evans, "R & B Divas"; Diana Krall, "Glad Rag Doll"; Matt and Kim, "Lightning"; Van Morrison, "Born to Sing: No Plan B."
-- PG staff and popmatters.com
First Published October 4, 2012 12:00 am