Red Velvet Car
I've often wondered what happened to Heart. Did they break up? Did they retire from the music business? Sometimes I saw them pop up in the news, but they would dart out of sight as quickly as they had come. I was both happy and surprised to hear them speak up during the last presidential election. However, there was no new music until now.
In a sea of male rock ballad performers, Heart always stood out in plain sight. Known for their straightforward lyrics and soaring vocals, the sisters' songs have always been memorable. Even those of us mostly unfamiliar with their material know bits from "Barracuda," "Crazy On You," and "Magic Man." Thankfully, Heart didn't quit making music. Red Velvet Car is Ann and Nancy's first album after six long years. It is a solid rock album, with a dark grittiness that is understandable and welcome. After withstanding decades of the music industry and life's challenges, I would only hope that experienced musicians would come out with their teeth bared. From the album's photos and liner notes, the sisters glare confidently outward, plush red vehicles that are more than capable of running us down.
The songs do not have the memorable, poppy catchiness of their past work. However, they make up for it with sincerity and soul. "Safronia's Mark" grabs the heart and doesn't let go ("How can she fly/ with a broken wing?"). The title track "Red Velvet Car" soars and swipes ("I'm comin' for you! I'm comin' for you!"). The earthy choice of sounds and instruments on the album is very different for them. Songs such as "Death Valley" intentionally spin into cowgirl territory.
All in all, don't come into this album looking for the grace and whimsy of Dreamboat Annie. Instead, open your mind to an antique limousine with its engine on fire.