On Friday, September 14th, Ann Wilson, of fame from the 80s rock band, Heart, took to social media to announce that she released a new solo album, Immortal, in which she covered songs from several of the artists who have passed away over the past few years. Her fans enthusiastically met her new work with praise.
Fabulous album, Ann, Well chosen material. My husband is out looking for a physical copy as I write this. I will play it to no end! So happy listening to your outstanding voice. love it, love you!
— Denise Cornett (@CFFfan) September 14, 2018
Omg…"You Don't Own Me" gave me the chills. So damn good !
— KayKat (@KaySushikay) September 14, 2018
The track list contains some of the most powerful and relevant work from some of the most powerful and relevant artists of all time:
- You Don’t Own Me – Leslie Gore
- I Am The Highway – Audioslave
- Luna – Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
- I Am Afraid of Americans – David Bowie
- Politician – Cream
- A Thousand Kisses Deep – Leonard Cohen
- Life In The Fast Lane – The Eagles
- Back to Black – Amy Winehouse
- A Different Corner – George Michael
- Baker Street – Gerry Rafferty
Ann Wilson opens the album with Leslie Gore’s “You Don’t Own Me”, which she has described as an iconically feminist piece that was way ahead of its time, as a song from a young girl in 1963. Wilson’s interpretation of the song is much heavier and darker than the original. The music, specifically the heavy guitar, which is thematic through the entire album, sets a foreboding, aggressive, and as she stated, “wicked“, tone, matched perfectly with her strong vocals. The song allows her voice to soar on the chorus, reminding the listener of the sheer power she possesses as a vocalist, and it is quite fitting for the message of the song–nothing can stop a woman who knows what she is worth.
A standout pairing on the album is when Bowie’s “I Am Afraid of Americans” leads into Cream’s “Politician”, as both of them exemplify the toxicity of politics and greed, a topic that is quite relevant to American society at the moment.
Wilson expresses Bowie’s fear of Americanized culture, which is rooted in greed, arrogance, carelessness, and exploitation, through the dreary, heavy guitar, and jarring, intense vocal delivery. She sings every word with a sense of urgency–as though there is something at the root of American culture to be afraid of. She delivers the line “I am afraid I can’t help it” with the same helplessness many Americans feel at the moment. When she states, “God is an American”, the listener can hear the apprehensive, jaded quality that accompanies many of the darker thoughts that come along with the hypocrisy of religion and how it often intersects with politics, even though, theoretically, it is not supposed to.
Wilson opens Cream’s song, “Politician”, with a laugh, already setting a tone of arrogance and predatoriness that increases in intensity as the song progresses. She delivers the entirety of “Politician” with a tone of superiority that accompanies sexual politics, often perpetuated by powerful men. This is a timely choice in the wake of the #MeToo movement, and Wilson effectively conveys the creepiness and discomfort many women feel, as she is singing from the point of view of an exploitive politician, and sings with a sense of arrogance and entitlement. She sings, “I support the left but I’m leaning to the right / but I am nowhere when it comes to a fight” so aggressively that it is like she is forcing the listener to face the hypocrisy on both sides of the political spectrum, essentially stating that politicians, in the end, are only looking out for themselves. The way she sings “Hey now baby, get into my big black car / I wanna show you where my politics are” has such a predatory, sexual tone that it could make the listener’s skin crawl. This song’s delivery is the most socially and politically important part of the whole album.
The biggest stand out on the album is Wilson’s cover of Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black. The minimal instrumentation allows Wilson’s vocals to be the main focus of the song, through which the listener can hear an intense hurt, longing, and loneliness–possibly even more so than on the original song. Wilson’s interpretation of the song is darker and much angrier than Winehouse’s, adding deeper dimension to an already intense song. Wilson’s version is vengeful and foreboding. At the refrain, Wilson adds violins, which suggest a beautiful romance, but there is a darkness to their sound as the vocal builds up to the last chorus, where she explodes and the listener can feel all the hurt and anger pour out of her.
Immortal is a beautiful, culturally and politically relevant album. Ann Wilson’s reimagining of these iconic songs adds a darker, deeper dimension to them. Her vocals are superb, and 51 years into her career, Ann Wilson continues to prove that she is a force to be reckoned with.
Stream or buy the album here!