There are plenty of rock singers still going in their seventies, but only a few who can still hit the notes as they did in their youth. Among that rare breed are Sammy Hagar, now 74, who sounded great on his 2021 tour with The Circle; Klaus Meine, 73, who rolls back the years on the new Scorpions album Rock Believer; and Ann Wilson, a mere 71, whose voice still has all the power and beauty that lit up every classic Heart song in the 70s and 80s, from hard rock ball-breaker Barracuda to supreme power ballad Alone.
Fierce Bliss is her third solo album, and by some distance the best of them. The previous two, 2007’s Hope & Glory and 2018’s Immortal, were covers albums, with only one original Wilson composition amid an eclectic mix of songs ranging from Pink Floyd’s Goodbye Blue Sky to Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street – some of it well-judged, some less so.
But with Fierce Bliss, the core of the album is original material, proof that the co-author of so many of Heart’s greatest songs still has the writing chops to go with that one-in-a-million voice.
The album’s opening track, Greed, is a gritty, riff-driven rocker with a stinging lyric, of which Wilson says: “I think I write better when I’m angry.” Black Wing is a slow-rolling, darkly atmospheric number with a heavy 70s feel. And in Angel’s Blues – featuring guitarist Warren Haynes, and developed by Wilson from an instrumental jam by Haynes’s band Gov’t Mule – there is what she calls a “blues song on steroids”, on which, as a singer, she digs as deep as she has ever done.
Another modern blues guitar master, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, co-stars on a cover of Robin Trower’s landmark 1974 song Bridge Of Sighs. “It’s the best blues song ever written,” Wilson says, and she sings the hell out of it. Shepherd also features on a rather clunky rocked-up version of the Eurythmics’ hit Missionary Man, but the Queen ballad Love Of My Life is handled more sensitively, performed as a duet with country star and latter-day Eagles member Vince Gill.
The bulk of the album was recorded at the fabled Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Alabama, and the cover artwork is by the legendary Roger Dean. Ann Wilson knows her music history, and it resonates powerfully throughout this fine album.