September 10, 2018 Ann Wilson – Immortal (Album Review)
No question, Ann Wilson of Heart is one of the utmost revered voices in all of Rock-n-Roll music. Decades into her storied career, Wilson’s angelic pipes timelessly reign atop the list of the greatest voices in Rock, drenched in a sea of sincere, expressive composure. Writing the next chapter, Ann Wilson releases her second solo effort, aptly titled, Immortal, on Friday, September 14, 2018, the songstress’ debut on BMG Records.
For young minds learning the rich history of Rock music, Ann Wilson was born in 1950, in San Diego, California. A musical upbringing, Wilson’s father kept music alive in the family home, filling the days with everything from the great Ray Charles to Jazz and Bossa Nova. Blossoming into her late teenage years, Wilson discovered her talent for singing, and, along with her sister, Nancy Wilson on guitar, Ann joined Folk/Hard Rock band Heart. In 1974, led by Ann Wilson’s impeccable vocals, Heart was a brash and musically talented entity, as the band released their debut album, Dreamboat Annie, gifting the world ageless songs like “Magic Man” and “Crazy On You.”
Over the next decade, Heart would become one of the biggest Rock bands in the world, adding astonishing hits like “Barracuda” and “Alone” to a plentiful catalog of incredible music. That said, some of the next generations most popular artists clamored to work with the great Ann Wilson. For instance, in 1992, Wilson laid her harmonies in the Grunge world, appearing on the Alice In Chains EP Sap, performing on the Seattle legends’ “Brother” and “Am I Inside.” In more recent times, Wilson has jammed with Guitarist Jerry Cantrell on numerous stages. To date, Wilson has appeared on countless tributes, paying homage to Rock’s elite in the Beatles and Led Zeppelin.
In 2007, Wilson released an official album of covers, her solo debut, Hope & Glory. Again honoring her heroes, the music of iconic acts such as Pink Floyd and John Lennon became graced in Wilson’s resonance with guest appearances by the likes of Sir Elton John and Alison Krauss. Basking in the pinnacle of stardom, in 2013, Ann and Nancy Wilson were inducted into the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame as members of Heart, cementing the band’s legacy after five decades and 35 million albums sold.
For all this, Wilson is now selflessly primed to celebrate the Immortal status of artists who have inspired her career, as well as musical peers who passed on too soon. At the helm of Immortal, legendary Heart producer, the critically acclaimed, Mike Flicker, came in as the clear cut choice to guide Wilson, as she carefully selected some of the best songs by legendary musical figures whose paramount careers shaped the face of the music forever.
Opening an Immortal playlist, Wilson pays respect to Lesley Gore, singer of the 1963 smash “It’s My Party.” Featuring guitar god Warren Haynes, for “You Don’t Own Me,” Wilson’s voice pays Lesley Gore a fitting tribute with perfectly haunting and yearning qualities. Commenting on the track’s important message, Wilson stated: “It could be the anthem of anyone who wants respect, anyone at all, not just women. I think we’re in a time where we’re having a discourse now as a culture about who people really are and how it’s important to accept people, and so I thought the song really fits. I think it’s really meaningful in today’s world.”
Perhaps the biggest loss to Rock music in recent memory, Wilson pays respect to Chris Cornell, covering Audioslave’s “I Am The Highway,” acoustically driven, and adding an ever so slight uptempo. Turning the clock back to 1976, Wilson is again joined by Warren Haynes on the mellowed Tom Petty cut “Luna” before David Bowie’s “I’m Afraid of Americans,” and, channeling the late Jack Bruce of Cream, the crafty Blues rocker,”Politician.”
Truly connecting to a man some may call the greatest music mind ever, Wilson puts her spin on Leonard Cohen’s lounge tune “A Thousand Kisses Deep” and pins a new demeanor onto “Life in the Fast Lane,” by another brilliant songwriter, Glen Frey of the Eagles. Pulling deeper into the emotional pool, Wilson remembers the savvy Amy Winehouse on “Back To Black” as well as the creative mind of George Michael for the lyrically touching ballad “A Different Corner,” as Immortal drives home Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street.”
Overall, Ann Wilson’s take on these ten tracks of diverse genres show Immortal as a fitting tribute to some of music’s most prized artists. That said, Wilson’s voice, along with smooth musical arrangements, allows a good balance between showing who Wilson is as an artist, and, even more so, what these late artists represent to music, and why it is important to honor their legacies. For these reasons, CrypticRock gives Immortal 3 out of 5 stars.
Ann Wilson photo credit: Kimberly Adamis