Ever said something in life and it didn’t exactly come out the way you intended it to? You wish you could have rephrased it, helped whoever it was you were directing it at to understand exactly where you were coming from, what you were saying? The same way our words are toned by delivery, body language and expression, musical tone can be tinged and tweaked through production and other musical elements. But while we can’t take back words, folk rock band, Heart (which at the heart, excuse the pun, has been embodied by the two Wilson sisters), has taken advantage of the fact that they can take songs from their existing catalog of music (primarily tracks from their work from the early 80s) and re-record and release them, to essentially refocus the attention in each song to highlight what it is they wanted listeners to hear from the very beginning.
Beautiful Broken is comprised of seven reimagined songs as well as three originals, one which is a sweet ballad written by Neyo (Two). The bratty title track Beautiful Broken is a great opener with Metallica’s James Hetfield adding a coarse texture throughout the duet that is aiming to present a “raw, muscular look at a ripped and torn beauty; a fabulous insanity”, as described by Ann Wilson herself. Nothing that follows quite matches up to the insistence and intensity of Beautiful Broken, with the albums tempo averaging on the slower side. But that’s not to say that what follows has no merit. I Jump, which is one of the new recruits, balances itself between strings, electric riffs and a chorus that rips through the lilting verses with edgy background vocals that lower with each “Ah”, like a sonically metaphorical sensation of jumping in itself.
Honestly, the originals could have gotten away with being untouched. If City’s Burning was to be medically examined between the original and the re-recorded, the re-recorded, that lacks the 80s effect edits and stinging ‘match to gasoline’ layered guitar riffs, would probably just be sent home with a first-degree burn, while Johnny Moons sleek opening on the re-recorded version kind of falls once the too clean vocals drop in. Taking away from the drama and allure of the original.
While Heart yearned for a re-do on the over-production and sheen of the 80s, it’s safe to consider this re-do was less of a must and more of a want to experiment and rediscover long-lost songs from their arsenal. To quote Nancy Wilson, she mentioned that, “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”. But it may at times leave you thinking that maybe, just maybe, there was nothing particularly wrong with leaving them where they were. Sometimes, in the same way we can try to backtrack and rephrase words, thinking it will make things clearer for whoever it is we are communicating with, is the same way re-recorded songs can feel. Like we aren’t giving our audience enough credit that they are smart enough to put all the pieces of information together and interpret it for themselves.