(Silver Lining Music)
3 1/2 out of 5 stars
With Heart currently on one of their intermittent sabbaticals, frontwoman/co-founder/vocalist and songwriter Ann Wilson returns to a solo career she has sporadically revisited since her 2007 debut.
Now in her early 70s, Wilson’s distinctive, powerful pipes haven’t lost any of their soulful command on this eleven-track program mixing intriguing covers with Wilson co-penned originals. The singer gets assistance from members of Gov’t Mule, who back her on two songs written with Warren Haynes, lets Kenny Wayne Shepherd’s guitar loose on a few others (he burns on Robin Trower’s “Bridge of Sighs”), and duets with Vince Gill on Freddie Mercury’s “Love of My Life,” which lands on the wrong side of syrupy.
Wilson’s long acknowledged love of Led Zeppelin informs her rambling “Black Wing,” expanded from a previous version, where she delivers her patented Robert Plant howls on a crunchy, oozing, psychedelic rocker that is one of this set’s highlights. Her rugged rock side is represented by the sprawling Gov’t Mule-backed “Gladiator” which gobbles another bite at the Zepp-styled apple.
She plucks a somewhat forgotten gem from Jeff Buckley’s limited catalog with the subtle and moving noir of his “Forget Her,” creating one of this disc’s most poignant performances. The grinding blues of “A Moment in Heaven” lyrically speaks to music business frustrations, a subject Wilson is all too familiar with, singing about the demands of following up a hit with Reach back down into the well/Recreate the magic spell/Same toy same lube same heat/Second one’s just not as sweet. Similar sentiments are echoed in the opening, self-explanatory “Greed” and especially in her pounding, potent take on the Eurythmics’ “Missionary Man” which can stand toe-to-toe with the original, an impressive achievement.
The closing muscular ballad “As the World Turns” ends the album on a yearning, romantic note. It allows Wilson to display the full range of her remarkable voice that, based on the evidence here, has not aged a day since Heart’s prime years.
Photo: Courtesy of Ann Wilson / ABC PR