HEART – Red Velvet Car (2010)
The sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson have been queens of rock and roll ever since Dreamboat Annie hit radio waves in 1975, but Red Velvet Car is their first release in six years.
This album manages to capture the classic Heart sound – from the style of “Barracuda” to “Dog and Butterfly” – while adding a new dimension that only age and experience can provide.
From the duo’s voices that sound as good as 35 years ago to the guitars, songwriting, and harmonies that only they can create, it’s damn good to hear them rocking out again with some new tunes.
Whether you enjoy the fierce energy of electric guitars or the solace of getting lost in acoustic guitars and voices emotionally telling what can only be personal tales, there’s something for anybody who enjoys good music on this album.
The opening track “There You Go” tells a cautionary tale about losing control and being burned. With guitar melodies and rhythms sounding barely under control, the band is telling some poor innocent soul to be wary of the whirlwind of fame, to watch out for herself.
“Wheels” is another song that just drives along like a freight train in the dark. Again, the guitars and bass lines makes to tap your toes as it drives on. (Note: don’t listen to this song while in the car with a known speed trap).
“Red Velvet Car” is a bluesy-blues hypnotic and sexy tune.
“Queen City” is a combination autobiography and tribute to the band’s hometown, Seattle.
“Hey You” is interesting because it employs multiple styles. It starts out with a bit of a country flavor, but then suddenly (but seamlessly) erupts into a ’60s rock&pop sound.
My first impression of “Wheels” was that it sounded like it could be part of a movie soundtrack. Then I read an interview with Ann in which she explained that it actually evolved from a song they were ‘trying to write’ for the movie Midnight Run. This one keeps your attention because it makes you want to know how the story turns out.
The folk influence is much in evidence in “Safronia’s Mark”, which Nancy describes as a ‘gypsy folk urchin song and another Seattle story’
“Death Valley” is about life on the road, and the allegorical ‘bad trips’ we all take as we stumble through life.
Nancy wrote “Sunflower” for (and about) Ann as a birthday present. Like the back story, the lyrics are touching.
“Sand” is the only song on the album that wasn’t written specifically for Red Velvet Car. The Wilsons recorded it in the early ’90s with an acoustic group they put together called The Lovemongers. The song is about endings, and makes a great closing track.
It’s the intimacy that just floors me each time I listen to the album. I truly felt as though I had somehow slipped into a jam session as a fly on the wall… soaking up the music and the tales.
This album is as good as rock gets, and Heart sounds as good as they ever have.
01 – There You Go
02 – WTF
03 – Red Velvet Car
04 – Queen City
05 – Hey You
06 – Wheels
07 – Safronias Mark
08 – Death Valley
09 – Sunflower
10 – Sand
Ann Wilson: vocals
Nancy Wilson: guitars, vocals
Craig Bartock: guitars
Rick Markmann: bass
Ben Smith: drums
Debbie Shair: keyboards
Ben Mink: additional guitar