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Music Review: Heart – Jupiters Darling

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It had been 11 years since Heart had released their last studio album. Their fans had to make due with live and compilation releases. They finally released Jupiters Darling, June 22, 2004. It would be the least commercially successful album of their career, reaching only number 94 on the Billboard Magazine Pop Album Chart.

Jupiters Darling can best be described as a solid, rock album, and it probably deserved a better reception. It was well produced, but was not overly slick or polished. The music ran the gamut from acoustic, to ballads, too hard, bone crunching rock.

The Wilson sisters wrote or co-wrote all of the tracks except one. Longtime band members Howard Leese and Danny Carmassi had both departed. Guitarist/keyboardist Craig Bartock was an important new member as he co-wrote 13 of the tracks. The other new members were keyboardist Darian Sahanaja, bassist Mike Inez, and drummer/percussionist Ben Smith.

The album is what it is; competent rock ‘n’ roll with Ann Wilson’s voice soaring over the top. The albums rock nature may be due to Nancy Wilson’s taking more of a leadership role. Nancy takes the vocal lead on several of the tracks. She is an excellent vocalist in her own right, but happens to be in a band with one of the best vocalists in rock history, who also happens to be her sister. She possesses a beautiful voice, but her sister has a power, clarity, and an edginess that has rarely been equaled. Still, her songwriting and singing leave a lasting imprint on the music. She also was the album’s sole producer.

“Vainglorious” is out of the Led Zeppelin school of rock. It is a churning fusion of rock and blues that sweeps over you in waves.

On the lighter side of the rock coin is “Things,” which has an acoustic, folk feel with a gentle Nancy Wilson vocal.

There are a number of other highlights. “I Need The Rain” is both haunting and poignant. It makes use of a mandolin sound and features another Nancy vocal. Ann Wilson kicks her voice into high gear with “Down The Nile,” which is both powerful and seductive. There is the usual selection of Heart ballads. “The Perfect Goodbye” is very good and “Enough,” complete with flutes is better. Few singers can sing a building ballad like Ann Wilson.

Jupiters Darling is an often underappreciated release as the album is probably better than the sum of its parts. What it did prove was that Heart was still rocking in the new millennium.

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