I’ve always been surprised that Ann Wilson had never put out a solo album, even a self-absorbed one. While I’ve never been a Heart fan, I have appreciated the talent that comes from both Ann and Nancy Wilson. But, as Heart no longer commands the audience adoration that they enjoyed in the ’70s and ‘80s, it’s a perfect opportunity that Ann Wilson takes to fill the obvious void with the release of her first ever solo project, the covers-laden Hope & Glory.
I have to admit to not expecting a tremendous effort but I was sure wrong. Hope & Glory ends up being a better than average release with 11 classic covers and an Ann Wilson/Ben Mink original tacked onto the end. A glance through the titles will give you a feeling that Ann is all over the board here, that she might not be able to pull it off, especially the tough “Immigrant Song” from Led Zeppelin. But I’m here to tell you that her version of “Immigrant Song” is a well done piece, right down to her Plant intro knockoff. The song certainly pushes her to her vocals limits but Ann Wilson’s rock experience with Heart gives her the guns to pull it off effectively.
Her cover of “Goodbye Blue Sky” (Pink Floyd) is a grand effort. She is joined by Elton John on a cover of his “Where to Now, St Peter?,” she duets with k.d. lang on “Jackson,” and with Wynonna Judd on the Animals’ “We Gotta Get Out of This Place.” She does a bluegrass version of “Bad Moon Rising” (Creedence Clearwater Revival) in a duet with Gretchen Wilson that’s not bad. And her simple rendition of “Get Together” (Youngbloods), is charming. Simply stated, Ann Wilson taps into the original spirit of all of the songs on Hope and Glory, and this easily makes the album stand out in a uniquely Ann Wilson way. Sticking her toe in the water, and testing our reception on her one original, the folk-like “Little Problems, Little Lies,” tell me that she should do an album of originals next.
Ann Wilson could have done this album in the ‘70s and it would have been big for her. She still has that rock cred; her big bluesy, soulful, rocking, country – choose one – voice still does the trick. I was never a Heart fan but I’m an Ann Wilson fan now.