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.
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.