All things considered, it's a natural point of departure for Nancy and Ann Wilson, considering that over their illustrious career, Heart has always made urgent, immediate and compelling music. Simply put, following their creative impulses has made Heart one of the most innovative and enduring musical partnerships of our time.
It's a creative chemistry that has, to date, yielded sales of well over thirty million albums, with over twenty Top 40 hits and live shows that sell out stadiums whenever and wherever Heart performs.
Jupiters Darling is the latest chapter in that extraordinary saga. Produced by Nancy Wilson and featuring sixteen riveting selections written primarily by the Wilson sisters, this long-awaited collection of new Heart originals marks a triumphant return to form for a band that, in reality, has never really been away.
"Although we haven't been in the studio as Heart since 1993, we haven't exactly been taking it easy," asserts Ann. "We were involved in a side band called The Lovemongers; Nancy has done a lot of soundtrack work and released a solo album, and we've both gone on tour on our own."
In point of fact, Heart has also actively maintained their reputation as one of rock's premier live attractions. With the 2003 double-CD and DVD release, Alive In Seattle, the sisters and their top-notch backing band were caught in the act of creating some of their freshest and most exciting music ever. It also afforded fans a taste of things to come with live versions of four tracks subsequently recorded for Jupiters Darling.
"We've been thinking about going back into the studio as Heart for a long time," reveals Nancy. "When we finally decided to go for it, we asked ourselves a simple question: What would a dream album be for our fans? To answer that we went back to our own roots, the dream we had of giving Led Zeppelin a run for their money."
"The climate for music has changed," adds Ann. "There is a real hunger out there for authentic rock. That was all the encouragement we needed."
Yet, while conditions and creativity might have been in alignment, the Wilsons took their time in the songwriting process. "We worked at it for well over a year," Nancy reveals. "As we progressed, our standards got higher. We both realized we weren't into retro-Heart. The music had to be both familiar and new at the same time and that's no easy task."
It's a task triumphantly accomplished on Jupiters Darling. And, while the album may bear the signature sound that has set Heart apart for more than two decades now - a dazzling blend of Ann's soaring vocals and Nancy's glorious guitar - there is an unquestionably contemporary element that not only brings these tracks right up to, but well ahead of, the moment.
"Having access to all the latest technology gave us the freedom to try new things," Ann asserts. "At the same time we wanted to keep it real. Since we were working with our touring band, we were able to put some studio spin on our live sound. But what you hear is what you get: no machine music, no pitch correction."
Aside from Heart stalwarts Darian Sahanaja on keyboards and the rock solid rhythm section of bassist Mike Inez and drummer Ben Smith, Jupiters Darling boasts brilliant contributions by, among others, guest guitarists Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains) and Pearl Jam's Mike McCready. New to the group is Craig Bartock, who co-produced the album with Nancy, collaborated on the writing of several key tracks, and played everything from guitar to pump organ to mellotron. "He was totally tuned in," enthuses Nancy. "He had all the same musical tastes and references, which gave us a great basis to work from."
Yet, as pivotal as were both the both the technology and the musical crew assembled for sessions in Seattle and Los Angeles, Jupiters Darling is, from the anthemic opening notes of "Make Me" to the final wistful fade of "Hello Moonglow", pure and potent Heart.
"We went for songs that were simple, powerful, at times slightly political, but always emotionally honest," says Ann. "We think our fans, no matter how young or old, are smart, passionate people. They've stayed loyal because we've never underestimated them." "We'll never be a jukebox band, recycling our great hits," agrees Nancy. "We may have the same goals and ideals we started with, but we're always finding new ways of expressing them." From the evidence of Jupiters Darling, truer words were never spoken. From the revealing vulnerability of "Enough," to the hard won wisdom of "The Perfect Goodbye;" from the playful entendre of "Down The Nile," to the blistering rock of "Vainglorious;" from the scathing protest of "Oldest Story In The World," to the delicate melancholy of "I Need The Rain," Jupiters Darling is consummately crafted modern music at its finest. And, with an extensive touring itinerary scheduled this summer, Heart will be taking their exuberant new music to audiences across the U.S and Europe.
All of which adds up to a simple truth. By staying true to their creative urge, two authentic roll & roll originals have fashioned great new music...just when we need it the most. .