The left-field commercial success of the year, Heart is a six-member Vancouver-based band built around the dual talents of lead singer and lyricist Ann Wilson and her sister Nancy (melodist and acoustic guitarist). Though crudely produced, the album has an intensity seldom found on more polished records. Most of the songs carry confused too-elaborate arrangements but these technical inadequacies matter less when coupled with a voice as strong, flexible and emotionally captivating as Ann Wilson's. Her phrasing is as confident as Helen Reddy's, her timbre seductive as Christine McVie's, and her scalding hard-rock attack not unlike Robert Plant's; it is her performance which holds together the album's sharply defined, if not coherently developed, themes of supernatural love and sexual hysteria. The music runs from guitar-and-synthesizer-oriented rock with blues-based vocal and guitar hooks ("Magic Man" and "Crazy on You") to dreamy art-rock ("Soul of the Sea"). But the strongest piece is the haunting title theme, an acoustic folk fragment that is developed recurrently throughout the album. The success of Heart, in the wake of Fleetwood Mac, should point the way to still more acceptance of women rock singers in a field still very dominated by men. (RS 224)
(Posted: Oct 21, 1976)
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