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Heart, ‘Fanatic’ — Album Review

Sony Music

In a recent interview about Heart’s new album, ‘Fanatic,’ Ann Wilson said, “You know, the harder that we can make this stuff rock and then inject emotion, the better I like it.”

That brief quote summarizes what first distinguished the band from their ’70s peers — and also what’s helped them remain an enduring, creatively charged act nearly four decades later. Her quote also describes what makes ‘Fanatic,’ Heart’s fourteenth studio album, such a treat.

The ten-song record is far more rock-oriented than 2010’s ‘Red Velvet Car.’ ‘Dear Old America’ mashes together breezy strings, distortion-fuzzed guitars and huge drums. The howling ‘Mashallah!’ is indebted to the thunderous dirges and orchestral grandeur of Led Zeppelin and the snarling “59 Crunch” boasts grungy guitars and a rare treat — dueling vocals from Ann and Nancy Wilson.

The album’s detours are just as aggressive. Standout ‘Skin and Bones’ is a raw, grimy number steeped in bar-band blues, while ‘Rock Deep (Vancouver)’ is a touching, acoustic remembrance — fittingly, again with Ann and Nancy vocal contributions — that’s up there with Heart’s best ballads.

Still, the members of Heart aren’t interested in repeating themselves — or simply crafting a straightforward record. Nearly every song boasts some piece of ornate sonic detail which grabs the listener. For instance, bubbles of electronic noise crop up at the start of many songs and then dissipate underneath the noise, while violins dart throughout many tracks.

This diversity certainly elevates ‘Fanatic’ within Heart’s catalog. But the album’s vibrant atmosphere is just as significant. The band are clearly engaged with and energized by ‘Fanatic,’ and that’s perhaps the most gratifying thing about the album.

Next: Heart's Nancy Wilson Talks 'Kicking & Dreaming' Way to Success

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