Album: Beautiful Broken
Label: Concord Records
Release Date: 07/08/2016
Long time Elmoristas know I’m not one to dive headfirst into the nostalgia rabbit hole, but with Ann Wilson’s first howl on the raw and riffing title tune (featuring Metallica’s James Hatfield) I was momentarily transported back to 14th Street and Irving Plaza: The Academy of Music, late 70’s. Blue smoke. Third row. “Barracuda.” “Crazy On You.” Zep’s “Rock n Roll.”
Then it all comes crashing down with “Two,” an all-too-AOR-reading of a Ne-Yo tune, and thus the schizo affair that is Beautiful Broken sets sail as the Wilson sisters veer disturbingly (and dare I say almost to the point of pandering) between now and then. Six old songs from the agreeably lame, early ’80s trio of Bebe Le Strange, Private Audition and Passsionworks get revised with hugely mixed results. “Down On Me” from Bebe… zooms from its unfocused hard rock original to a sexy and simmering torch song. From the same album, “Sweet Darlin'” gets romantically re-invigorated with Paul Buckmaster’s orchestral sweep and Ann’s matured, knowing vocal. New tunes “I Jump” kicks serious ass and “Heaven,” though moody and mighty, just might have you hearing too much Led Zep. But, if the sisters Wilson thought they didn’t get the other older tunes on Beautiful Broken right the first time, I’m truly not convinced they do this time either.
– Mike Jurkovic