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Heart
Dreamboat Annie Live
Shout! Factory Records
www.heart-music.com


Thirty-two years after Heart's debut album Dreamboat Annie was released it is still inarguable that there is any other team in the world like Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson. The sisters actually joined Heart in the early '70s when they moved to Vancouver, British Columbia. The band was already in progress before then, crewed by founding member Steve Fosser and brothers Roger and Mike Fisher. Though Heart's players have changed since the release of Dreamboat Annie in 1975 and Ann and Nancy Wilson relocated to Seattle, Washington, the two never called it quits. They continued to move with the times and are now going into their fourth decade as Heart. Their latest album Dreamboat Annie Live is a live album that renews Heart's earlier works while showing significance to present day conditions. Many of the songs from Dreamboat Annie Live, like "Mistral Wind," originally from Heart's album Dog & Butterfly, and their remake of Pink Floyd's "Goodbye Blue Sky" have anti-war themes which were originally inspired by the Vietnam War. These songs have a renewed significance in present day when applied to the Iraqi War.

Dreamboat Annie Live was taped at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, California in April, 2007. Accompanied by the Stockholm Strings on many of the songs, Heart's hard rock edges are blanketed in chamber-pop elegance and dreamy atmospherics. Heart made emo-rock before it became a defining genre with Ann's vocal curlicues, emotive hooks, and lengthy holds accentuating the emotions in the lyrics portrayed in hits like "Magic Man" and "Crazy On You." The recording has three variations of the title track "Dreamboat Annie" which includes the original one garnished in country-tinged accents, a Fantasy Child model with ambient-pop trinkets, and the final one, the Reprise of "Dreamboat Annie" giving it a soft rock flambeau with pacifying rolls in the keys and a strikingly beautiful flute interlude on the outro performed by Ann Wilson. The soft, flowy sway of the looped rhythms gives the melody a fairytale ambience as Ann's vocal inflections accentuate the fantasy-like aura.

There is a recurring steely, sitar-esque tingle running through the guitar vibrations in tracks like "Magic Man," "Crazy On You," "Soul Of The Sea," and "(Love Me Like Music) I'll Be Your Song" which give the melodies a succor esthetics. "I'll Be Your Song" also has an inviting gospel-rousing clapping circled by exquisite string patterns. The low, heavy tones of "White Lightning & Wine" and "Sing Child" resonate with a gothic echo. The gently fluttering notes of the flute are revisited on "Sing Child" in the bridge as Nancy Wilson plays a folksy harmonica verse on the outro. The soft-pop psychedelics on "How Deep It Goes" project dreamy mists and sweetly-felted atmospherics while the lyrical guitar phrases on "Goodbye Blue Sky" are creased by gorgeous escalating strings. "Mistral Wind" is the lengthiest track, robed in storytelling flute segments trestled by rows of angelic strings and gently ringing cymbals jutting from the whispery ballad. Then, the tempo shifts, moving faster with drumbeats hardening and vocals digging deeper. Heart's remake of Led Zeppelin's "Misty Mountain Hop" and The Who's "Love, Reign O'er Me" are worthy of standing ovations. And when Ann belts out, "Hey, hey baby, said the way you move, gonna make you sweat, gonna make you groove," in Heart's rendition of Zepp's "Black Dog," it is such a treat. Her pitch takes a husky tone when she calls out, "Ah, ah Child, the way you shake that thing, gonna make you burn, gonna make you sting/ Hey, hey baby, when you walk that way, watch your honey drip, can't keep away." It's so cool to hear a woman express lust towards a guy, it balances the scales.

Dreamboat Annie Live is a real treat for fans of Heart and for anyone who wants to hear what makes Heart so special and makes them an irreplaceable gem in the rock world. Heart's live band on the recording is comprised of Ben Smith (drum, percussion, tympani), Craig Bartock (guitars, banjo, backing vocals), Rick Markmann (bass, Didgeridoo), Debbie Shair (keyboards, percussion, backing vocals), and Jeffrey Foskett and Libby Torrance (backing vocals). The Stockholm Strings include Malin-My Nilsson and Andreas Forsman on violin, Erik Holm and Nora Roll on viola, Anna Landberg Dager and Lena Bergstrom on cello, and additional guest Darien Sahanajar arranged the vocal and strings as well as contributing backing vocals and percussion parts. Produced by Nancy Wilson and Craig Bartock, Dreamboat Annie Live is as good as the original and then some.

-Susan Frances


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