Classic rock powerhouse Heart is embracing their roots. In this case, that means plans for their next album are taking them back to the days before all-things-digital became the norm.
Although the group has been touring for a while, they have also been logging some studio time in between dates to work on a new album, which is being produced by Ben Mink. Mink also worked with lead singer Ann Wilson on her solo album Hope & Glory.
Little is known about the new album beyond what Nancy Wilson recently revealed to Spinner. There are said to be ten songs pretty well finished up, with a couple more to work out before the album is completed. The group hopes to release it in the spring, but what’s most interesting is Wilson’s statement revealing that “We’ve been approaching it on a really human level. There’s not a digital construct anywhere.”
In addition, the recording is a return to a more old school methodology where all of the musicians are playing at the same time in the same space. “We are putting up baffles and playing together at the same time: drums, bass and guitars, all at once, in the same room, looking at each other and jiving off each other, so that it’s really a conversation in process,” Wilson adds.
Hearing this news can really raise expectations for fans like myself who consider Heart’s debut album, Dreamboat Annie one of the greatest rock albums of all time. That’s due, in part, to the quality of the recording, which, needless to say was 100% analog back on the mid-1970’s. It was recorded on an old Ampex MM1000 16-track tape machine (for the engineering geeks out there), which the technical crew somehow coaxed an astoundingly beautiful mix from.
For my money, it’s one of the best recordings I have ever heard, and I’m hoping that the folks in the control room can at least come close to the exemplary work done by Patrick Collins and Rofl Henneman, who are credited for the mastering and engineering on Dreamboat Annie.
If I may borrow some terminology from the world of sports, I envision my Heart “fantasy band” in the studio with some or all of the original musicians from the early days, with the result being something that really sounds like material from the 1970’s version of the group.
That may be the sound they are shooting for with this new album, and I’d love for them to hit the bull’s-eye, but as other enduring groups have discovered, the old magic can be very elusive. That is especially true when only two original members remain in the group.
I don’t want to come across as a wet blanket, but even though this analog-only thing sounds like a cool idea, for this fan, Heart will always be that group that blew my mind with Dreamboat Annie; not the band I’ve seen and heard more recently which the enormously talented Wilson sisters have been fronting.
I’m content to leave it at that. I know there are still legions of loyal fans out there who still love the group in its current form, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt and wrap this up by saying I will let the new album speak for itself when it is released.