Written by Ann and Nancy Wilson, Dog & Butterfly brings to life the story of the little dog whose tries to make friends with a butterfly, and the determination and perseverance that helped him reach that goal. The book is beautifully illustrated by Ann and Nancy, who also recorded a brand new version of the song which will be available exclusively through Amazon.com with the purchase of the book.
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Hope & Glory - Ann Wilsons first solo album ever -is a singularly powerful and altogether timely song cycle that speaks eloquently to our troubled times.
The world has long known Hearts Ann Wilson as one of the greatest and most enduring vocalists of her generation. Yet on her ultimately hopeful and glorious solo debut for Zo/ Rounder Records to be released on September 11, 2007, Wilson is likely to stun even her lifelong fans with what could fairly be called the mother of all cover albums.
On Hope & Glory, Wilson manages to reinterpret and reinvent some of the greatest songs of the past forty years that powerfully and poignantly reflect the here and now, including classics from the Sixties (Bob Dylans A Hard Rains Gonna Fall, Creedence Clearwater Revivals Bad Moon Rising, The Animals Weve Gotta Get Out Of This Place, and The Youngbloods Get Together), and Seventies (Led Zeppelins Immigrant Song, John Lennons Isolation, and Elton Johns Where To Now, St. Peter) to gems of a more recent vintage like War Of Man by Neil Young and Jackson by Lucinda Williams. Hope & Glory concludes with one heartbreakingly moving new song written by Ann herself, Little Problems, Little Lies, yet one listen to the album demonstrates that Wilson has made each of the songs here very much her own and utterly relevant to our world today.
Just about every single song was a complete thrill for me to sing because at some point I was a kid out there loving them, or a young adult loving them, or in a few cases a grown-up loving them, Wilson explains. As for the powerful ways the songs on Hope & Glory resonate with current events, Wilson says, The thing is, Ive been itching to make some sort of comment about our times, but I didnt want to do it in a way that was really abrasive and just shouting for the sake of shouting. I wanted to bring people some of the most beautiful poetry from different eras when they were facing a similar predicament and apply it to now.
The thematic way that Hope & Glory addresses matters of war and peaces gives the album a coherence and passion missing from the vast majority of cover albums. Most people dont really succeed with cover albums because they just try and redo the songs, says Wilson. I was so lucky to work with Ben Mink because he would never just do that or settle for that.
According to Wilson, producer and multi-instrumentalist Ben Mink -- well known for his work with k.d. lang, Feist, and Barenaked Ladies, among others - was an ideal collaborator on Hope & Glory. I dont throw the word around easily, but I think Bens a genius when it comes to getting a sound and knowing when youve gone too far and when you havent gone far enough. The sounds that Ben gets are just astonishing. Ben did a lot of the arranging and played almost all the guitars, all of the fiddle, a lot of the keyboards. Hes really a presence all through the album.
Mink is hardly the only musical figure joining Wilson on the album. Hope & Glory - recorded in Los Angeles, Seattle, Vancouver, New York, Nashville and Las Vegas - also features impressive guest turns from an eclectic group of high profile artists, including Elton John, Gretchen Wilson, k.d. lang, label mate Alison Krauss, Wynonna, Shawn Colvin, Deana Carter, and Rufus Wainwright. In addition to those special guests, Anns sister and longtime musical partner in Heart, Nancy Wilson, makes a number of appearances on assorted tracks, as do two current members of Heart,
drummer Ben Smith and bassist Ric Markmann and a number of players who had worked with Ben Mink on many of his projects.
For all that, Hope & Glory finally comes across as very much the statement of one woman seeking to make sense of the world around her. Rather than seeming like a heavy handed political diatribe, the album feels intimate and homespun - a musical exploration of the very personal consequences of global tensions through some remarkable songs.
I just wanted to go to each of these great songs and find the one thing that still resonates now, Wilson says. It wasnt so hard once I made my wish list of songs for the right ones to just float their way right to the top. And Ben was so great about that. We took a couple of days up in Vancouver and just went at every song we could possibly think of and some of them were clearly not right. So I guess all the songs we chose were those that we felt could live in the same family, and live on the same album.
Asked if she feels especially proud of Hope & Glory, the first album she has ever put her own name on, Wilson says, It feels really different and I dont even necessarily know how thats going to manifest itself yet because I have yet to go out and do gigs yet and play this material live. But I already know that I learned a hell of a lot from working with Ben Mink on this album. Nancy and I have a really big comfort zone together, and when shes not around its a whole other deal. Making this album, I had to reach down into places of myself - I really didnt know if they were there. Ben demanded that much of me. And in the end, that was a really good thing for me.
A good thing for Wilson - and a fantastic new album for the rest of us.
- David Wild
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