1983's Passionworks marked the end of an era for Heart; it was the last album that the Wilson sisters recorded for Epic, where they had recorded late-'70s classics like Little Queen and Dog & Butterfly. Unfortunately, Heart's relationship with Epic had turned sour by 1983; in a 1987 interview, Ann Wilson asserted that Epic didn't do nearly enough to promote either Passionworks or 1982's Private Audition. But all certainly wasn't lost; at Capitol, Heart enjoyed a major revitalization in 1985 -- both commercially and creatively. Although Passionworks was recorded under less-than-ideal circumstances, it isn't a bad album. Passionworks, which was produced by Keith Olsen, didn't go down in history as one of Heart's essential releases -- it isn't in a class with Dreamboat Annie, Little Queen, Bad Animals, or 1985's self-titled Heart, but it isn't an album that the Wilson sisters should be ashamed of either. Passionworks gets off to an impressive start with the hit "How Can I Refuse," an arena rock jewel. Most of the songs that follow aren't as strong, but they're decent. While "Sleep Alone," "Blue Guitar," and "Ambush" aren't masterpieces, they're likable examples of '80s hard rock/arena rock. "Allies," meanwhile, is a glossy power ballad that was written by Journey's Jonathan Cain and should have become a hit. In 1983, Cain's song was perfect for Heart because by that time, their ballads had become much more amplified. While early Heart ballads like "Dream of the Archer" and "How Deep It Goes" had a pastoral, acoustic-oriented folk-rock outlook, the Wilson sisters became masters of the high-volume power ballad in the '80s. Passionworks isn't recommended to casual listeners, but serious Heart devotees will find it to be an enjoyable way for the Wilson sisters to end their Epic period.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson