I have to admit, I’m a little late to the party. Red Velvet Car, the thirteenth studio album released by Heart over their thirty five year recording history has been out almost a full year. Still, it is the newest studio release from Heart and might be helpful listening if one is to get an idea of where Heart is at in 2011. This is especially true if you are planning to see Heart in concert on September 3, 2011 at the Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion in Phoenix, Arizona. So where is Heart in 2011 (or 2010 to be more accurate)?
Perhaps it is easier to say where Heart is not on this album. If you expect the hard rocking, guitar driven, style of early Heart found in songs like “Barracuda,” or “Even It Up,” you won’t find it on Red Velvet Car. If the power ballad days of Heart of the mid 1980’s with songs such as “These Dreams,” or “What About Love,” was your favorite incarnation of the band, then you may not be able to embrace the pace of this cd. Red Velvet Car is a mature, insightful Heart. Although the album focuses on the acoustic side of Heart, acoustic doesn’t always mean quiet and soft. Even though this album may be compared more with Heart’s 1978 release “Dog and Butterfly” than any other Heart album, it is as much Dog as it is Butterfly.
What it is, is personal. Want proof that the Wilson sisters were raised in Seattle? Check out “WTF” which fits right in with any grunge song from the Seattle music scene, angry lyrics included or the nice tribute to growing up in the town itself with “Queen City.” There is the catchy chorus of “Hey You,” that accents Nancy Wilson’s bittersweet approach to love. “There You Go,” is a blues-folk warning to those on the edge of fame and fortune. Although it is not country, it would not take much to push it to today’s version of that genre. The beat reminds one a bit of “Straight On.” The beauty of Ann Wilson’s voice is never more evident than on the title track “Red Velvet Car,” which could almost qualify as a torch song in its beginning. For those that like their Heart to rock, “Wheels,” won’t disappoint.
Where Red Velvet Car excels is that it sounds like Heart but is not a reworking of what brought them to this point of their career. It builds on what Heart has accomplished to date. Although some would call it a return to Heart’s acoustic folk rock roots, it is the next logical step. It shows that Heart can still make something worth having in your collection thirty five years after you first fell for their sound.