CD REVIEW: Heart/Heart & Friends - Home for Christmas (live album)
by: Cyrus Rhodes
"Heart brings the mojo & some friends"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST-
Heart /Heart & Friends
Holiday, Christmas Music (live Setting)
First off, Heart is one band that needs no introduction. OK how about a small one: Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductees Ann and Nancy Wilson first showed the world that women can rock when their band, Heart, stormed the charts in the ‘70’s with hits like “Crazy on You,” “Magic Man,” “Barracuda,” “Straight On,” and so many more. Not only did the Wilson sisters lead the band, they wrote the songs and played the instruments too, making them the first women in rock to do so. Heart continued topping the charts through the ‘80’s and ‘90’s with huge hits like “These Dreams,” “Alone,” “What About Love,” “If Looks Could Kill,” “Never,” and a string of other hits that showcased the sisters’ enormous talents as musicians, singers and songwriters. So after nearly 35 year in the business, some 25 Million albums sold what's next for these two? How about a concert with some friends just in time for the Holidays? This new release fulfills a personal goal both sisters had to create a special once-in-a-career holiday concert with special guests in their hometown of Seattle called "Home for the Holidays? This special show featured guest performances by Shawn Colvin, Sammy Hagar, Richard Marx, and Pat Monahan. This breathtaking live recording is also available on DVD/CD and Blu-ray and will even air on AXS-TV throughout December. In her own words: “We had a great time putting on this show with special friends for the holidays. Warm moments and great music from all....and some saucy little elves too,” said Ann Wilson. “We have always held the holidays up as a wonderful whimsical time of year and celebrating it in our beloved home town with friends, songs and family was extremely magical,” added Nancy Wilson.
The CD kicks things off with the striking Joni Mitchell classic “River” the perfect intro piece form a Christmas CD like this with impassioned vocals feel from Ann Wilson, served up against infectious keyboards accents and melancholy vibe. Track 2 “Seasons” keeps things moving in the right direction with its methodical musical movement meshed against inviting acoustic guitar ambience, soulful vocals against a grand slam chorus. Track 3 ‘Rocking” delivers an intoxicating groove, with eloquent Piano and inviting vocals from Shawn Colvin that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. This CD gets off to a good start dishing out 3 solid tracks in a row. As the CD unfolds right from the start you will notice the Wilson sisters feel quite comfortable within this Holiday setting just letting it all hang out musically, not holding anything back. Also impressive is how they incorporate a few friends here and there into this actual production. The overall musical vibe has a nice, warm and comforting feel to it delivered via a live setting. It’s definitely full of passion, depth and provides a festive atmosphere. All songs are extremely well crafted and consistent across the board - a world class song collection invigorating to the soul. Despite being backed up by some amazing friends, It's obvious to me the Heart sisters have not lost a step. Speaking of which guest appearances include the following: Shawn Colvin, Richard Marx, Sammy Hagar and Pat Monahan (Train). The songs themselves are each consistent musical experiences, each one possessing unique personality, flair and signature groove. All engineering aspects check out. CD possesses thick low end frequency and crystal clear high end clarity. All in all a high end live recording. Things begin to heat up a bit by track 7 with “All We Need is an Island” and the rocking “Santa’s Going South (for Christmas)” featuring The Red Rocker himself Sammy Hagar . This latest 14 Track release from Heart & Friends called "Home for the Holidays” delivers everything you would expect. All tracks provide heart filled musical enjoyment filled with strong musical variety via a diverse string of songs that touch an all emotions. Of course it needs to be said that Heart couldn’t get out of the building alive without playing a few tracks like "Barracuda" and "Even it Up". I was a bit skeptical when I saw these tracks coming down the pike, but I have to admit I wouldn’t change a thing about them. Both songs work surprisingly well within the confines of this catalog. To go with this there’s also an amazing version of “Stairway to Heaven” towards the end of the album. There's even an inspirational poem written and recited to the crowd by Ann Wilson which is honestly and genuinely inspiring. CD ends with “Ring them Bells” the perfect finale statement for a CD like this with its heartfelt message and amazing vocal harmonies. I especially like how they brought in all their friends out for the finale
It's a bit awkward to hear Colvin sings "Rocking" all by herself.
In close Heart & Friends: "Home for the Holidays" rocks the house and proves once again why the world loves Heart. From start to finish this CD covers a lot of ground emotionally (high and Low) but in the end is a very entertaining and action packed concert. Its strong suit –the amazing musical touch by the Heart sisters in how they incorporate their friends into the impressive song selection. For the record Ann and Nancy still bring the mojo even on a Christmas CD like this. The songs are extremely melodic, passionate and powerful. This breathtaking live recording is also available on DVD/CD and Blu-ray and will even air on AXS-TV throughout December.