Heart

Jupiters Darling

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In the decade since their last studio outing, Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson have apparently done some soul-searching and meditating on what made Heart such a great band in the first place. At their peak, they were a powerful, obsessively compelling rock band that could knock off hit singles and consistently fine albums that appealed to album rock radio junkies and studious types. Jupiters Darling is the result of that reflection. It's easily the band's finest moment in over 20 years. Ann and Nancy have gotten their confidence back as bandleaders; the obvious control they exert over these proceedings is one of the album's chief strengths. Guitarist Craig Bartock (who co-produced with Nancy and collaborated as a songwriter on most of these tracks), bassist Mike Inez, drummer Ben Smith, and Darian Sahanaja on keyboards are all wound deep into the Wilsons' sonic tapestry that combines tough, edgy, riff-based guitar rock with textures and motifs from Eastern music, the blues, and psychedelia, à la their influences from Led Zeppelin as well as vintage pop. Over 16 cuts and 62 minutes, Jupiters Darling does not feel overly long; the sheer diversity of its songs and production makes for a wonderfully labyrinthine listening experience. On "Make Me," the acoustic flamenco cum rag blues intro opens out into a rocker that bears the traces of "Crazy On You." Ann's voice opens up the words of a love song that demands resolution. The urgency in the lyric is carried to the edge of the abyss by the triumvirate of guitars. "Oldest Story in the World" has all the grit of "Magic Man," and wrangles out pumped-up riffology. Nancy's country vocal on "Things" feels a bit like Zeppelin's "Going to California," though it's less serious. There's adventure in tracks like "Enough," with its flutes and dulcimers, and "I Need the Rain," with its mandolins, as well as in the engaging radio pop of "The Perfect Goodbye" and the trippy, grungy rock of "Move On." The funky rawness of "Vainglorious" has a smoking refrain. Pearl Jam's Mike McCready joins the band on "I'm Fine," the scorching blues-rocker "Down the Nile," and "Led to One," as does former Alice in Chains guitarist Jerry Cantrell on the grunged-out crunch of "Fallen Ones." Jupiters Darling delivers far beyond expectations; it proves in spades that Heart is a vital and creative rock & roll unit and a force to be reckoned with.

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