Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members Heart return July 8 with Beautiful Broken, their sixteenth album and their first on Concord Records. Heart has sold over 35 million records, and this anticipated album is their first in four years. Beautiful Broken finds Ann and Nancy Wilson exploring new songs, but taking some of their favorite “cherry picks” from their catalog and rerecording and rethinking them. The title track and first single features a dynamic guest vocal contribution by Metallica‘s James Hetfield with Ann Wilson. Check below to watch an album preview clip.
“There is really a seventies feel to this record both in the sound, and the way we got to the emotional core of each song,” says Nancy Wilson. “We picked songs that we always wanted to re-do, plus we’ve added three new tracks. On both new and old, we have the band playing together the way we used to. This is classic Heart.”
The seven tracks that were pulled from the Heart catalog were tunes both Nancy and Ann wanted another shot at, due many times to how they were initially produced. Songs like “City’s Burning,” “Down on Me,” and “Sweet Darlin'” have always been live favorites of the sisters, and of Heart’s fan base, but they had somewhat languished. “Those songs may have fallen through the cracks, in a way, because of where radio was at the time when they were first released,” Ann Wilson says. “Rediscovering those songs, I found ways they emotionally still speak to me.” Two songs are from Passionworks, two from Private Audition, and two are fromBebe Le StrangBeautiful Broken’s title track had been a bonus song off Fanatic, Heart’s last album, but this version is essentially an entirely new song with barnburner vocals-and even some lyrics-added by Hetfield. “It blows the previous version out of the water,” says Nancy. “James just took the song on, and what he added was perfect with a bite and a rock accent.”
Beautiful Broken was co-produced by Nancy Wilson with Heart’s bassist Dan Rothchild. Rothchild had previously produced Better Than Ezra’s platinum-selling Deluxe, but he also comes from rock royalty: his father was legendary Doors producer Paul Rothchild. The LP was recorded at Sunset Sound in Los Angeles, the same studio the Doors cut their best work. “There were eerie echoes in the hallway,” Nancy says.
Rothchild said his goal was to capture the human feel of HEARTlive in the studio. “On these classics, some of which had suffered from eighties-era over-editing-production-curse, we stripped the paint off and found the beauty underneath,” he says.
For Ann, the album allowed her to revisit, and re-sing, songs she felt “never reached their full development.” For Nancy, the lyrical heart came alive: “I felt these songs were poetic pieces that were lost in translation with the sounds of the eighties, which was harder and more digital. We wanted to drape them in velvet, and make them shine.”