Ann Wilson – Fierce Bliss (Album Review)

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Next year will see the 50th Anniversary of Heart, conjuring fond memories of classics like “Barracuda”, “Dog and Butterfly” and “Crazy On You”. Many casual fans of the band would likely not be expecting new music from the band’s lead singer at this stage in 2022, much less a substantial album of quality material that rocks. Ann Wilson is here to prove otherwise. Her new album “Fierce Bliss” is a startling home run that sees the pioneering rocker excel in songwriting and swagger. As for her voice, it sounds like we’re still in the 70s – she’s lost none of her power or emotive range. Armed with a slew of inspired new original songs and a few choice covers, Wilson succeeds on one track after another. In short, this album is a must-have for fans of any era of the band, particularly those who still want to rock out a bit.

Primary to the album’s inspiration were the supporting musicians. Wilson had been writing and collecting songs the past few years but needed the incentive to put them together on one album. Having been introduced to several famed Nashville-based musicians, she got to check off a bucket list item by recording at the famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio. “I met these guys like [famed Nashville session guitarist]Tom Bukovac and Tony Lucido,” explains Wilson. “I’d never met them before, and they really inspired me. It was like a big door opening.” Having a new ace band forming was crucial but Wilson didn’t stop there, inviting in several guest artists from guitarists Kenny Wayne Shepherd and Warren Haynes to singer Vince Gill and many more, resulting in a satisfying musical range.

Although the album features some pretty cool covers, it’s always encouraging to find that some of the best songs are originals. “Fierce Bliss” quickly establishes that Wilson’s songwriting chops are up to par with two impressive opening tracks. “Greed” is both accessible and compelling as it rocks with the spirit of the 70s era and a slight sheen of the 80s as window dressing. A great lead-off track. “Black Wing” is even better, a more acoustic, earthy piece that sends shivers via Wilson’s voice. “On the breath of your liberation and the perfume of wild ginger bloom, black wing on highways of heaven riding all the way back home.” With Tyler Boley on guitar, the latter half stretches out with slide electric playing as the rhythmic ambience conjures up the feels, big time.

“Fighten for Life” has been around for a little while in Wilson’s repertoire and this recorded version was worth the wait. Although kept at a slower tempo, the band and the singer ratchet up the intensity throughout, a transcendent piece where the choral backing vocals carry that “Heart” feel. Elsewhere, Warren Haynes teams up for the triumphant “Gladiator” which also echoes with classic Heart vibes, “A Moment In Heaven” shines a light on the fickle nature of fame and “As The World Turns” closes the album with an anthemic, lighter-raising send-off with style and grace.

Having proven herself several times over already, Wilson provides some icing for the cake with several welcome covers. “Missionary Man” is a fun nod to fellow rock diva Annie Lennox while making the song her own, complete with gospel backup singers. Vince Gill is tapped to deliver Queen’s “Love of My Life” as a true duet, a charming surprise as is a deep cut from Jeff Buckley, “Forget Her”. But it’s Robin Trower’s classic “Bridge of Sighs” which establishes itself as a centerpiece of the album, providing a showcase not only for Wilson’s scorching vocals but also for legendary blues guitarist Kenny Wayne Shepherd to let it rip. What a perfect match up, leaving no survivors.

We all hope that next year sees the Wilson sisters reuniting once again to celebrate the band’s 50th Anniversary. Whether or not that nostalgia is realized, “Fierce Bliss” proves that Ann Wilson is having something of a rebirth in the present moment. Her legacy has just risen a notch higher with an album that belongs in every Heart fan’s collection.

Released By: Timstone Music
Release Date: April 1st, 2022
Genre:  Instrumental Guitar / Rock

  Band Members:

  • Ann Wilson / Vocals
  • Tom Bukovac / Guitar
  • Tony Lucido / Bass
  • Sean T Lane / Drums, Percussion & Bike
  • Gordon Mote / Keyboards
  • Tim Lauer / Keyboards

“Fierce Bliss”  Track Listing:

  1. Greed
  2. Black Wing
  3. Bridge of Sighs
  4. Fighten for Life
  5. Love of My Life (feat. Vince Gill)
  6. Missionary Man
  7. Gladiator
  8. Forget Her
  9. A Moment in Heaven
  10. Angel’s Blues*
  11. As the World Turns

Musicians who appear on “Fierce Bliss”:

  • Vocals – Vince Gill on “Love of My Life”
  • Lead Guitar – Kenny Wayne Shepherd on “Bridge of Sighs” and “Missionary Man”
  • Guitar – Warren Haynes on “Gladiator” and “Angel’s Blues”
  • Guitar – Tyler Boley on “Black Wing”
  • Keyboards – Danny Louis on “Gladiator” and “Angel’s Blues”
  • Keyboards – Dan Walker on “Black Wing”
  • Bass – Jorgen Carlsson on “Gladiator” and “Angel’s Blues”
  • Bass – Andy Stoller on “Black Wing”
  • Drums – Matt Abts on “Gladiator” and “Angel’s Blues”
  • Choir – The Rev Nathan Young Singers on “Missionary Man”

“Fierce Bliss” is available to pre-order now on CD Casebound Book (deluxe package), Vinyl and Digital formats here.

9.1 Excellent

Offering an astoundingly strong new album, Ann Wilson proves that even in her 70s she’s a rock ’n roll (little) queen. Bolstered by a killer new backing band, a slew of special guests, top-notch songwriting skills and a voice that apparently just won’t quit, Wilson still has the goods to make one of the best rock albums of the year. And perhaps one of the best albums of her career - with or without Heart. Do yourself a favor and pick up some new music that sounds fresh and familiar at the same time

  • Songwriting 9
  • Musicianship 9.5
  • Originality 8.5
  • Production 9.5
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