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The Ann Wilson Thing!


by Kevin Wierzbicki

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Hot on the heels of Heart's stellar new album Beautiful Broken, Heart lead singer Ann Wilson keeps the new music coming with the second in (hopefully a long series) of EPs from The Ann Wilson Thing!, her solo side project. Wilson has been doling out The Ann Wilson Thing! material in small doses, and like last year's #1, #2 - Focus holds only four songs, two of which are covers. One of the two covers is a live take on Jimi Hendrix's "Manic Depression" where Wilson clearly indicates she's been there when she barely contains a freak-out when she sings the line "Manic depression, frustrated mess!" Band guitarist (and Heart guitarist) Craig Bartock plays incendiary licks throughout the song but he doesn't try to "out Jimi" Jimi; the frenetic vibe of the song comes instead not only from Wilson's vocals but also from the truly manic drumming of Ben Smith, who is also the skins man for Heart. The other cover is an interpretation of Peter Gabriel's "Don't Give Up," a cut that normally is sung as a duet (the original featured Gabriel and Kate Bush), and in explaining in the intro of the live cut that she's going to sing it all by herself, Wilson amusingly states that she's a Gemini so it shouldn't be "Too much of a stretch" for her to sing both parts. The down tempo and emotion-drenched song clocks in at over seven minutes, and while staying true to the original arrangement, Wilson's vocals are appropriately tender but also at times very bluesy and the song's instrumental outro also veers into the blues. The EP's two original cuts, written by Wilson and Bartock, are "Fighten Fer Life," done in a down tempo, slightly ominous-sounding groove that reflects Wilson's ability to sound mysterious but also her love for Led Zeppelin, and the similarly spooky-sounding "Anguish" where Bartock's slinky slide guitar playing and Wilson's wailing give the song a sound straight out of the mind's equivalent of a Louisiana swamp.

The Ann Wilson Thing!
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