CD Review: Ann Wilson’s Hope & Glory

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On September 11, Ann Wilson’s solo CD will be released. Being her first solo album, there is bound to be a lot if interest from fans of Heart, the band where Ann Wilson has earned her reputation as one of the best female vocalists in rock.

I’ve been a fan of Heart pretty much since the beginning and have always had an appreciation for her talent. Needless to say, I was quite interested to hear that she would be releasing a solo album and I’ve been listening to it for the last couple of days.

In the first track, “Good Bye Blue Sky,” originally done by Pink Floyd, Ann gets a little help from her sister Nancy and some of the vocals are easily identified as a product of the Wilson Sisters. Being a rather laid-back track, it does not really showcase Ann’s voice in a way I am accustomed to hearing her in my favorite Heart tunes. For me, this selection as the first track kind of gets things off to a slow start. As much as I like Pink Floyd, this one was never one of my favorites.hope-glory-album

When I first heard track number 2, “Where To Now St. Peter?” on Ann Wilson’s MySpace page a few weeks ago I took a liking to it immediately. It’s no secret that Elton John has been known to write a good song or two, and although this was not one that was well-known to me, I’d have to say this is now one of my favorite Elton John songs. It’s certainly my hands-down favorite track on this new album.

“Jackson” certainly has a country feel to it with a typical country-style progression to it. I admit that I don’t know jack about Lucinda Williams, and since my taste in country music usually steers me more towards country music with more of a rock slant to it, it’s not typically the kind of song I would listen to. It is, however, quite listenable, and it is interesting to hear Ann’s voice lend itself to a song like this. I will admit that I found myself tapping my foot along as I was listening to it.

The old Animals classic “We Got To Get Out of This Place” has an updated sound to it and to me it is more interesting that the original. I think Ann and Wynonna Judd play off each other nicely.

I know the Wilson Sisters like to do Zeppelin Songs, so I guess it should surprise no one that Ann chose one for her new album. The particular track she chose, ‘The Immigrant Song,” is one that I never really took a liking to, so I can’t personally say I was too crazy about this one. I did appreciate the fact that I could understand the lyrics however. I could never tell what the hell it was that was being said in the original version!

“Darkness, Darkness” is another one where Nancy lends a hand and is a tune I have heard a few time through the years but never paid too much attention to. I really do like this version, though and would have to nominate it for my second-favorite track on the album. I think Ann does an outstanding job of capturing the mood of this song.

Another country-ish toe-tapper is “Bad Moon Rising,” originally by Creedence Clearwater Revival. It’s one of those classics that is so recognizable when it pops up on the radio or something. I’ve always kind of liked this song, although I don’t really know why. It’s not typical of the stuff that I listen to. At any rate, I like the original version and I like this one as well. Another artist with whom I am unfamiliar, Gretchen Wilson, joins Ann to record this one and I think the harmonies she pulls off with Ann sound great for this song.

“War of Man” is a Neil Young song that kind of strikes me the same way the first track on the album does. For me it just never really gets off the ground. I’ve never been a Neil Young fan and this song won’t change that. Alison Krauss performs on this track with Ann and I have to agree with the comments Ann made about her voice, which she described as “pure and angelic.”

Another Youngbloods original was selected for track 9, “Get Together.” This 1960’s classic was also given an updated sound which, for me, makes it more interesting. I’d prefer to hear this version over the original version, which never really stood out as something I would go out of my way to listen to, and quite frankly, might put me to sleep.

I like “Isolation” better than I would have expected, since I don’t think I have ever heard a John Lennon song that I cared much for. What I like about this one is that it really allows Ann to cut loose a bit and demonstrate the range and power of her voice. It’s another one that starts off slow but this one really builds up and gets off the ground nicely towards the end. I’ve never heard the Lennon version, but strongly suspect I would prefer the Wilson version.

I don’t know how Bob Dylan made a name for himself as a singer, but it was nice hearing one of his songs performed by people who actually can sing. Sorry, Bob, but I never could stand your voice. Anyway, I’ll give him his due as a song writer since this is an interesting song and the idea to have Shawn Colvin join in on this one was a good one because I think she sounds great.

The last track is the single track on the album written by Ann herself. It’s an acoustic track and it’s always been hard for me, as a rock fan, to get into that kind of thing. I did not find it all that interesting, but it does do a good job of summing up the album’s theme and does not really leave us wondering a lot about her opinions where a certain war is concerned.

Although most of the material on this album is not the kind of stuff I would typically find myself listening to, overall, I enjoyed it and would add a few of the tracks to the list of stuff I normally listen to. “Where To Now St. Peter?” is a definite as well as “Darkness, Darkness.”

I found it interesting to hear her perform some styles of music that I don’t normally associate with her, but I would have liked the chance to hear more of her original material. Maybe at some point she will give us all a chance to do that.

11 Comments

  1. Skier43 September 9, 2007 at 10:53 am

    Thanks or the review of Hope and Glory. Everyone has got to remember that this is not a Heart album. It should not be compared to the types of songs or the style of singing Ann performs with Heart. Listen to this album and forget about Heart. It’s Ann Wilson here, the best voice in rock and roll, finally branching out on her own and doing her own thing.

  2. RealRockNews September 9, 2007 at 11:07 am

    Thanks for the comment, Skier.

    I can’t help but think that I might be more convinced that this album is Ann Wilson “finally branching out on her own and doing her own thing” if every track on the album but one was a cover.

    That’s not to say she does not have the right to do things the way she wants, but as I fan, when I first heard that she was coming out with a solo album, I assumed it would be original material and was a bit disappointed to find out otherwise.

    In retrospect, I think my review of the album was more a review of Ann Wilson’s taste in music than it was of her abilities to perform. Her performance and the performances of her guests on the album were all quite good.

    My favorites from the last few decades differ quite a lot from Ann Wilson’s and maybe this will not be an issue for some of the real die-hard Ann Wilson fans who will be happy just to hear her do some material they have not heard her do previously.

  3. Lala Sky September 10, 2007 at 7:45 pm

    Not that good. Sorry I like Heart but to me these are bad covers with not much effort into recording them. It’s not enough to have a covers album but to also cover them badly is shot at the cut out bin.

  4. Dan September 12, 2007 at 6:04 am

    I’m sorry to say this album although much hyped and spun from the Heart “Street Team” is pretty bad. I’m sorry that I bought this today and I’m very disappointed that Ann Wilson could lay out a stinker like this. I am a Heart fan from way back and this is the worst work she has done!

  5. RealRockNews September 12, 2007 at 7:53 am

    Very interesting.

    I would advise people to avoid taking the two previous comments seriously because both comments do not appear to be genuine, and instead appear to be some kind of effort to trash this album. For what reason I am not sure.

    Here’s the reasoning behind this:

    Both comments, the ones by “Lala Sky” and “Dan,” were made from a computer with the same exact IP address and using two very different e-mail addresses, which are probably bogus.

    Unless there are two very disappointed Heart fans named “Lala” and “Dan” using the same computer or different computers on the same local network, I can only assume there is something more behind these two comments than just a desire to express an opinion.

    If “Lala” or “Dan” would like to explain the reason that both of their comments were posted from the same IP address, I’d like to hear it.

  6. Beth September 12, 2007 at 7:27 pm

    Lala and Dan’s comment are not taken seriously for this poster, as their views adamantly oppose mine. I think Ann instrument (her voice) is finely tuned and richly seasoned.

  7. Andrea September 17, 2007 at 6:11 pm

    Bless you for calling a rose by any other name…etc etc etc.

    Ann does a stellar job on this album. And if you know that Ann Wilson’s strength lies on a live stage, and how much effort it takes for her in the studio – then you will know that this is perhaps the best recorded studio performance Ann Wilson has ever done.

    As for the comments from Lala and Dan regarding the street teamers – no one is pushing this album that doesn’t believe in it’s quality and artistry.

    Many fans have waited since 1982 for this release. Personally, it was well worth the wait.

    Take Heart, GET ANN!

    Andrea

  8. Jean September 22, 2007 at 9:16 pm

    I’m listening to this now and LOVE it.

    Ann has the voice to sing anything.

    Where to now St. Peter had to grow on me and is now one of my favorites.

    I love the original Little Problems, Little Lies.

  9. Music Blog April 24, 2008 at 2:25 am

    I’d prefer to hear Bob Dylan sing for a million hours than to hear this lady sing for 10 minutes. It drives me crazy when people complain about Dylan’s voice. For one thing there’s a lot more to music than vocals, and for another thing – He’s got a great voice. His voice has character. It’s interesting. I don’t know… I guess it’s just one of those things you get or you don’t get but… All I can say is you are missing out.

    Music Blog’s last blog post..John Lennon’s Real Love & Joy Division’s Isolation: An Essay

  10. RealRockNews April 24, 2008 at 6:23 am

    I guess I could say the same thing about Ann Wilson’s voice. You either get it or you don’t.

    I’ll stick to my guns on Dylan — I can’t stand his voice. And since you bring up his music, I’ll have to say I’m not crazy about that either.

    I guess if we each listen to what we like, we’ll both be happy.

  11. Aaron Myers June 26, 2008 at 3:28 am

    Not listenable. Bad covers of good songs. When Ann announced in 1984 that she had a solo album under her sleeve I assumed it would have been her own material. This is not the case. Some of the die hard fans may like this but, I really don’t.

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