Heart - Beautiful Broken

Heart Beautiful Broken cover
Heart
Beautiful Broken
Concord Records
2016
You can hardly claim that “Beautiful Broken” is a proper new album by the beloved sisters Wilson, since it appears to be mostly made up of re-imagined version of older personal favorites and only three, new tracks.
 
Weirdly enough the first and eponymous tune is a re-arranged more rocking version of a bonus track from the band’s previous album “Fanatic” given a new lick of paint and some backing vocals by none-other than Metallica’s James Hetfield?! Not exactly your no1 expected guest in a Heart album… and not exactly that much of a standout track in either form to really grand it naming an album, but who am I to judge… right?!
 
Now, “Two” is a softer song, a primarily piano ballad that picks up steam along the way, that seems to work just fine, despite sounding a little as if the vocal has been phased out weirdly… just as if the vocals come from behind a wall or something. It’s also worth noting that it’s Nancy singing on this one...
 
“Sweet Darlin” was originally the closing track on 1980s “Bébé le Strange” and without having crazy differences to the original here, it sounds a bit more organic and natural with some nice strings courtesy of arranger Paul Buckmaster (Elton John, Rolling Stones).
 
“I Jump” is another original, a quite heavy and somber track, a little odd, considering most of the material here, I suppose “cinematic” might be an apt word to describe it… but while it’s got a nice enough hook, I can’t help to feel that it sounds a little “out of place”.
 
“Johnny Moon” originally found on “Passionworks” is quite an underrated tune, but when I compare it with the original it feels a little “demo-ish”. True, the 80s called for some over produced material, but I can’t see how this version improves on the original… it’s certainly not worse, just different, but I’m not sure which version I like more. This one is more direct and fragile, while the original is a little more impressive and glassy, but without losing on passion on performance much.
 
“Heaven” I think debuted on “Alive in Seattle” back in 2003. Here it’s presented a little heavier and with more ornamental sounds… it’s a tune heavily inspired by Led Zeppelin with a prevalent eastern mood and not a bad one at that, but still not a masterwork in its own right.
 
One of the cases that the re-recording and re-imagining seems to have worked quite well is 1982’s “City’s Burning”, originally to be found on “Private Audition”, which has had its original key lowered somewhat and despite a somewhat different arrangement that even accommodates some strings in places, it feels more “natural” than the somewhat forced “hyper charged” rocker that the original was.
 
“Down on Me” is quite significantly different to the original version on “Bébé le Strange” that was an electrified somewhat bluesy song… here it’s a bluesy song, with some electricity in it… still a great tune, but I still prefer the somewhat more virile vocal of some 26 moons ago to this more “experienced” and somewhat heavier version… what’s important is that the song’s “heart” and “soul” are still there, still intact, so it’s just a matter of choice, I guess…
 
Another case where the “re-imagining” works better than the original is I guess the second song from “Private Audition”, “One Word” that seems to work better as a stripped down number that the slightly over dramatic original, where the orchestrations seem to antagonize the sentiment...
 
Lastly, the “Language of Love” originally on “Passionworks” seems to be comprehensible in both its original more orchestrated form as well as in this here, more organic form, still a smooth and great song…
 
While I was initially taken back from this mostly “re-recordings” project and I was about to dismiss it as a lazy compilation, rehashing the band’s former glories, I somehow realized that these songs, beautiful as they are, were hardly ever featured in the band’s numerous “best of/greatest hits” compilations, hence – this was more like re-recordings of some “Deeper Cuts” in hope that they would now be noticed and “re-discovered” and in that respect the album works beautifully, despite feeling a little less than ideally flowing. Worth re-discovering or if you’re younger, discovering these songs from the vast catalog of this most excellent band.