Ann Wilson never wanted to play by other people’s rules. The Heart singer has weathered all manner of showbiz craziness over the past half-century, crushing sexist fans and industry veterans early in her career, making “Faustian bargains” to cement a searing return to the mid-80s and helping young bands navigate the trappings of stardom at the dawn of the grunge revolution. Wilson triumphed over decades of adversity and emerged stronger, wiser and more steadfast. Coming out of the twilight of his career with nostalgic tours and royalty checks for song-doctored hits was never an option.
That challenge and clarity of purpose is what drove Wilson’s third solo album, fierce happiness, a scorching collection of original tracks and classic rock covers that pays homage to the singer’s ancestors and contemporaries. The title is no misnomer: Wilson’s joy and confidence are palpable as she rips through these 11 songs with the same gusto she had when she debuted Heart in 1975. Dreamboat Annie.
Wilson’s stratospheric voice positioned her as heir to Robert Plant’s throne at that time – not easy to pass nearly 50 years later. But fierce happiness requires no leveling on a curve. Wilson swings out on the album’s opener “Greed,” oscillating between a tender croon and a gravelly, high-pitched moan, which unravels delightfully in the song’s closing moments. She flexes gritty bravado over up-tempo rockers, including an excellent cover of Eurythmics’ “Missionary Man,” and she lends searing desperation to slow-burning blues epics like “Black Wing” and “Angel’s Blues.” .
fierce happiness also has a cadre of world-class associates. Honorary eagle Vince Gill lends his crystal-clear vocals to a cover of Queen’s “Love of My Life,” preserving the original’s sleek beauty as Wilson’s raspy vocals and muscular arrangement push it into more bluesy territory. The singer also recruits top notch guitar training partners in Gov’t Mule co-founder Warren Haynes and blues maestro Kenny Wayne Shepherd. The former lays down crisp, haunting solos on the six-minute opuses “Gladiator” and “Angel’s Blues,” while the latter delivers a stunning performance on a rendition of Robin Trower’s “Bridge of Sighs” that not only serves as a centerpiece of fierce happiness but gives the original a run for its money.
Perhaps the most refreshing part of fierce happiness is that it finds Wilson operating at the peak of his powers while looking back on his illustrious career with a mixture of hard-earned wisdom and wry fun. “Hey, an accidental hit / It’s transcendental shit / Go back down the well / Recreate the magic spell“, she sings on the autobiographical swagger “A Moment in Heaven.”Same toy / Same lube / Same heat / The second one isn’t as softOuch. Such a tumultuous career would hamper a lesser musician, but Wilson is still standing tall – and fierce happiness is not just the work of a music industry survivor. It’s a thunderous statement from a hardened boxer who looks set to go another 10 rounds.
Ranked heart albums
This list of Heart albums, ranked from worst to best, wasn’t easy to compile, because unlike many longtime bands, the band never made a bad record.