A piece of the Heart beats on with new music and compelling renditions of the classics. Nancy Wilson is best known as the co-founder of one of the most prolific female-led rock bands in history. But 2021 has been the year of many “firsts” as artists have adapted to a change of scene and direction for their music. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee is no outlier as Wilson steps out with her debut solo album, You and Me. The singer’s first stride as a solo artist features an all-star ensemble of musicians for one of the most memorable outings in recent memory. In a mix that pairs reworked covers of timeless hits with new material, Wilson makes an intimate portrayal in a strong premiere.
As the other half of Heart, Wilson contributed to over 30-years of success with the group. 35 million sold records and four Grammy nominations are just slivers of Wilson’s excellence as a songwriter. The storyteller exudes her talents in the title track as it plunges into the start of something new. “You and Me” brings an inward reveal and appreciation for one of Wilson’s biggest inspirations, her mother. At the outset of Mother’s Day, the artist pays tribute to her late matriarch for the life lessons bestowed. The song is a quick reminder to appreciate other figures in life as it carries as a soft but powerful energy. Its ballad-like lullaby is soothing with Wilson crooning a transparent devotion for the woman who made it all possible.
Wilson’s poetic soul and unique spoken word vocals equally match her craft as a guitarist. The strong picking and folk injection are affluent enough to make the record charming. Along with her originals, Wilson creates newer arrangements of near and dear songs that have been staples to superstars. Bruce Springsteen’s “Rising Up” is an anthropic anthem that’s deep-seated in raising a fighting spirit. Originally a rock track, its essence is impressionable through an indie style. Wilson cover’s the track magnificently with a warm-rendered version that contains the uplifting remedy of succeeding trials and tribulations. The track’s vitality opens its rhythmic backbone of slide-guitar and mandolin pairing. Wilson joins the uncanny combination with an incredibly melodic voice that reindicts the music with an angelic tone.
The diverse covers just keep coming as Wilson brings new takes on tracks that are revitalized for another generation. Pearl Jam are considered legends with their infectious hard rock appeal during the grunge era. The 1990s hit “Daughter” was one of the few departures from the group at the time as they brought an acoustic guitar riddled with heavy grooves. But this cover marks a different kind of departure from Wilson’s soft atmosphere thus far. The artist lets out the wild rock that started her career early on with an explosive, upbeat rendition that shatters ceilings. Its sonic convection with brief interludes builds one of the most “in your face” tracks on the record. While its dynamics are spine-tingling, Wilson croons it back down with a rock voice that’s on par with her Heart lead singer and sister, Ann Wilson.
Wilson hypnotizes listeners through sound that offers a lot of space for others to fill. Who else to fill it better then absolute legends? Sammy Hagar joins Wilson for a powerhouse duet that seems too good to be true for Simon and Garfunkel’s stoic masterwork, “The Boxer”. The track induces the folk backdrop it was originally intended for by its main writers. But Wilson and Hagar combine a more cutting-edge sound that hints at influences of soft rock swaying. Through its old-school appeal, listeners can enjoy two different singers from the same generation entrance a hybrid of roots rock. Among the list of other stars that join Wilson’s rave are respected rhythmists Duff McKagan and Taylor Hawkins. Who both showcase their practice of energized percussion which parallel previous high-octane tracks on the album.
In its entirety, You and Me is a diverse execution of Wilson’s talents as a singer-songwriter for a newer generation. The tracks that run parallel and perpendicular group what’s made the artist a standout composer. Whether it’s through her enigmatic vocal tones or heavy-driving rhythm section, Wilson fires on all cylinders as a star who shows she still has it.
Written by Trenton Luber