Ann Wilson of Heart Returns


Ann Wilson

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One of rock’s leading ladies and one of the most hardworking, Ann Wilson is back with a brand new four song EP. Those hoping for Heart may or may not get what they wanted, but those who follow the singer because of her talents inside and outside of Heart will get exactly what they hoped for. The Ann Wilson Thing sees Wilson delivering one of the shortest yet most mature sets of her entire career. In short, she’s absolutely explosive on this recording which encapsulates three studio cuts and one live outing. You can tell she’s in a great place and mindset right now because her singing and phrasing is immaculate. These songs will bring you to your knees because of the sheer overpowering might in Ann’s performance.

A peppy, snappy, hard-rockin’ cover of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What it’s Worth” is up first and it’s a saucy dish of tribal drumming throbbing bass grooves and winding, writhing blues-bludgeoned guitar leads. At the center of the maelstrom Wilson’s vocals narrate from the top of a high tension wire. While faithful to Buffalo Springfield in terms of Ann nailing the chorus and the melodies, this version is louder, fatter and more vocally on fire. The singer is in complete command of her craft, battling a thunderous instrumental production job with her muscular, belting vocals that come straight from the gut. Nobody before or since has done such a great job with this classic piece.

“Fool No More” is an Ann Wilson original and it’s a hickory smoked r & b number boiling over with blues. One might imagine Joe Bonamassa or Leslie West coming up with a track like this, but you won’t find their names on the credit sheet, thank you very much. This is all Ann doing what she does best over a hot coal bed of fiery slide guitar and shucking blues riffs. She squeezes as much marrow as possible out of each note and her voice bends, cracks and nearly breaks with a passion overload. If you think Ann’s lost it, I’d tell you you’re crazy and you must have never heard this cut. “Ain’t No Way” is an Aretha Franklin penned composition and Wilson takes this moody jam even lower to the ground. Ushered on by a live audience, Ann’s voice is the sizzle and the steak, cooking all of the fat off the bone into a greasy pool of primal blues that is just as power-charged as Franklin’s original rendition. The rhythm section prowls, an organ howls and the guitars melt like butter in the sun. Wilson gives this song a brand new life of its own without taking too many liberties, yet refusing to play it safe and strictly by the book. The backing vocal chorale was certainly a nice touch. Closing things out, the singer/songwriter does a fantastic studio job of Ray Charles’ “Danger Zone.” There are definitely some vintage studio tricks at work here that makes the song sound even hazier and older than the original. It sounds as if it’s being broadcasted from a transistor radio off of a well-worn vinyl LP. Musically speaking, this is just Ann and a piano stealing the show, and her vocals are so timeless that one can imagine that she wrote the song and used to play it in the heyday of classic blues’ rise to prominence.

The Ann Wilson Thing is a striking piece of work that shows Ann honoring her influences and even giving us a new piece that can stand side by side with these legendary cover compositions. This is Wilson like you’ve never heard her before. Her work in Heart is still untouchable, but her latest release proves that The Ann Wilson Thing is the next evolution of the songwriter as not only a musician and artist, but as a person as well.

9 out of 10 stars.

Lance Wright