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Heart - 'Red Velvet Car' http://www.rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/cc/71/8a/633_heartredvelvetcar_1285620393.jpg Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     September 25, 2010    
 
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In the current climate of instant gratification I doubt many but the most devout fans will give this album the time it needs to be fully appreciated.

It’s been well documented that Ann and Nancy Wilson have been mentally scarred by the way they were treated during their mid-eighties ‘heyday’. Whilst their phenomenal sales during that period suggest that the record company knew what they were doing by bringing in songs from outside writers, the musical style and visual image were not something the band were comfortable with, so it shouldn’t be surprising that when they took control back of their music in the last decade they returned to the early seventies rock and folk influences that spawned the band in the first place. The problem now, especially in Europe, is that albums like ‘Dreamboat Annie’, ‘Little Queen’ and ‘Dog & Butterfly’ were never as popular here as they were in the US, so a swing back to that sound is hardly likely to find favour with fans of ‘Heart’, ‘Bad Animals’ and ‘Brigade’. With ‘Red Velvet Car’ the band have chosen to almost completely ignore the rock side of their sound and concentrate on the light acoustic-based songs, which pitches the album far closer to the Wilson sisters’ side project The Lovemongers.

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Starting off with the low-key ‘There You Go’ the band set their stall out with layers of acoustic guitars and a loose raw feel, and any electric guitars in the mix are of the jangly variety. The trademark vocal melodies and Ann’s killer voice are still there of course, but as well written as these songs are they simply don’t rock and the string of acoustic pop ditties like the title track, ‘Queen City’ and the Nancy sung single ‘Hey You’ give an initial feeling of growing disappointment as each song flows by. Many songs have a nice string section and some songs even rise above the calm with more urgency to the bass and drums, of which the almost grungy ‘W.T.F.’, the excellent ‘Wheels’ and the short but fun ‘Bootful Of Beer’ are the most lively, but even those are far too polite for their own good.

There are actually some great songs here, not least the catchy ‘Safronia’s Mark’, the darker ‘Death Valley’, a good version of the old Lovemongers song ‘Sand’ and the superb ‘Closer To The Sun’, but that doesn’t alter the fact that this is the most pedestrian album Heart have ever made. It’s a real shame because repeated plays brings a better appreciation of each track, but listening to them one after the other is a bit of an endurance test and in the current climate of instant gratification I doubt many but the most devout fans will give this album the time it needs to be fully appreciated.

Phil Ashcroft

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