Hope & Glory (Zoë/Rounder) is billed as Ann Wilson's first solo album, but with nine of 12 tracks featuring artists like her sister Nancy, Elton John, Gretchen Wilson, Rufus Wainwright, and Alison Krauss, among others, it's hard to think of this as truly a solo album. Sure, it's not an official Heart album (the band she and Nancy have fronted for the past thirty-odd years), but I don't think it's quite a solo album. That's okay; it's still going to rock your socks off.
The album is being released on Tuesday, September 11th, which is apropos considering how politicized the Al-Qaeda attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have become. There are several albums of protest music being released on that day, and this is one of them. Wilson has drawn on some of her favorite songs of the past forty years and put together a collection that includes interpretations of classics from John Lennon and Neil Young. It's not an overtly political album, but it does serve to highlight the relevance of these classic songs in the modern world. Wilson says, "I've been itching to make some sort of comment about our times, but I didn't want to do it in a way that was really abrasive and just shouting for the sake of shouting."
I have been a fan of Heart's music since I was a young 'un, but since I've been alive for only thirty of the forty years of music Wilson draws from, I am probably not the best one to judge the quality of her interpretations as they compare with the originals. This allows me to focus on the music for what it is, which is not a bad thing. I suspect that many of my contemporaries will be in the same boat.