HEART -- The Road Home (Capitol)

The potential for Heart's new live acoustic CD was limitless. Recorded over 5 nights at a small club in Seattle, the Wilson sisters perform "unplugged" versions of several of their hits, along with a few select cover songs as well. Produced by ex-Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones (who also performs on the CD), sound quality on the CD is clear & well defined. The booklet contains an informative interview with both Ann and Nancy regarding the songs on the CD, and how they were written.

Musically however, Heart's new CD "The Road Home" doesn't take long to disappoint. The first track, "Dreamboat Annie" gets things off to a commendable start. The strings on the next track, "Dog & Butterfly" add a nice touch of ambiance not achieved in the studio version. John Paul Jones plays mandolin on "Back to Avalon", as well as bass and piano on selected tracks.

From there, the CD goes downhill quickly. Ann's painful take on the power ballad "Alone", and the slowed-down rendition of "Crazy on You" is nothing short of excruciating. Ditto for her vocal rendition of the classic "Love Hurts". They should consider changing the name of the song to "My Throat Hurts". On stage, Ann is still capable of hitting the notes she reaches in the studio, but her voice sounds like she's in pain.

Nancy's biggest hit with the band "These Dreams" is now hopelessly MOR, as is "All I Wanna Do is Make Love to You" & the cover of Joni Mitchell's "River". By the time the band gets to its tired version of "Barracuda" (saved only by the guitar lick stolen from "Eight Miles High"), you're fighting to stay awake. The CD wraps up with the unlisted title track, "The Road Home." With its salsa-like percussion, the song sounds like a Gloria Estefan throwaway. Probably the biggest disappointment of all with the new CD is that there is no acoustic guitar solo by Nancy. Having witnessed the band live several times in the past, Nancy's solo was always one of the highlights.

Heart is still very capable of producing good music. Tone down the vocals a bit, Ann. You can still rock out. "The Road Home" could have been a great CD. The result however is nothing more than an exercise in oversinging.

© 1997 Steve Marshall