Concord Music Group
Release Date: July 8, 2016
Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Heart return with a unique collection of songs for their sixteenth album, Beautiful Broken. The album is chocked full of old songs made new again (deep cuts from the Private Audition, Passionworks, and Bebe Le Strange albums) as well as three new tracks. The album was co-produced by Nancy Wilson and Heart bassist Dan Rothchild (best known for his production work on Better Than Ezra’s classic Deluxe) and features a guest appearance on the title track by Metallica’s James Hetfield.
Let’s start this off with the fact that Heart sound spectacular on this album. While I loved Fanatic, Beautiful Broken has a much more stripped down feel to the production which gives it the bite that reminds you of how the band is live. The title track is a great example, it’s a rockin’ number with a big drum and bass sound and gritty guitars. Hetfield’s appearance is a huge surprise here and his voice lays some dirty groundwork for Ann’s more anthemic voice to stand on. The loose feel of “City’s Burning” gets down and dirty in a seventies way as well. This is a track I have always loved, but this version finds a groove and digs in, making it hard to deny that this is the better version.
Another highlight here for me is the Ne-Yo penned (you read that right) “Two.” Honestly, I wanted to disregard this song entirely because two of the greatest songwriters in Rock and Roll don’t need a Ne-Yo song, right?! It’s a beautiful song though and Nancy Wilson’s voice soars on it. You feel it deep down in your guts and it has probably become my favorite song that features Nancy’s voice. The simplicity of “One Word” is another highlight for me. The gentle feel is led by some very seventies style tones and the vocal harmonies drive the whole sound home perfectly.
You really can’t go wrong with anything Heart has done, but Beautiful Broken is something very special. These deep cuts really get a new life here and, honestly, most fans probably won’t even realize they are re-records. The band make them feel entirely new which makes for a dynamic album of songs that you will have a hard time turning off. Beautiful Broken is definitely one of the best of 2016 so far!
Reviewed by mark1340