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Heart's Nancy Wilson releases first solo album, 5 Things to Know

By Gary Graff
ggraff@medianewsgroup.com, @GraffonMusic on Twitte

Posted: Monday, May 10, 2021

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How did Heart's Nancy Wilson spend her pandemic -- or at least a chunk of it?

Making her first-ever solo album.

"You and Me," out Friday, May 7, marks the first album to bear Wilson's name, though she has worked outside Heart in the Lovemongers and, most recently Roadcase Royale. The new set is all her, however, produced at Wilson's home studio in northern California and blending originals with covers of songs by Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, the Cranberries and Simon & Garfunkel. "You and Me" also features guest appearances from Sammy Hagar, Guns N' Roses Duff McKagan, Foo Fighters' Taylor Hawkins and Roadcase Royale bandmate Liv Warfield. The album ends with "4 Edward," a short instrumental tribute to the late Eddie Van Halen.

A return to Heart is on the horizon, says Wilson, but having her own album to do provided some respite from the stresses of quarantine...

Wilson, 67, says by phone that "You and Me" was "an interesting result of the situation, the shutdown," and allowed her to make use of a separate building on her property that she repurposed into a recording studio. "I like doing stuff around the house. I like cooking. But having this open-ended window of time was in so many ways just a great thing. Being able to be creative and have a new creative space in northern California, where we moved right before the shutdown, was like a godsend. Doing something individually, outside of Heart, was really healthy for me, in one of those 'It's about time' ways. I think it saved my life, on so many levels."

For the original material especially, Wilson -- who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame with Heart in 2013 -- reached back to some of her earliest days as a musician to "reconvene with my earlier sort of college girl stuff, pre-Heart, when I was really doing a lot of creative stuff just on my own. I started writing a song called 'We Meet Again,' which was sort of a return to my more poetic, channeling my inner Paul Simon kind of self, a sign to 'can I dust off the old notebooks and see if I can write something?'"

The first single from "You and Me" was Wilson's cover of Springsteen's "The Rising," which she felt was as appropriate for this time as it was when he first released it in 2022. "I started that around the beginning of the album...'The Rising' was initially written for 911, so I thought it would fit the bill now, especially when it seemed like we were having 911 all the time, every day early in (the pandemic). So that kind of fell together early on and became the first release from the album, while I was still working on it. Bruce's camp sent a great, big, wildly positive thumbs-up to our camp, and I was really happy about that because his songs are pretty sacred, and that's a very sacred type of song."

Wilson famously gave Eddie Van Halen what he claimed to be his first acoustic guitar, and she based the album's "4 Edward" tribute on a piece he came up with the night of the gift. ""Somebody asked me if I would do an instrumental on this album, and I said, 'Yes I will, and I will dedicated it to Edward Van Halen.' Then I immediately said, 'Oh no, what did I just get myself into?!' (laughs). So I had to come up with something worthy to dedicate to Eddie. It was no easy task. I know Wolfgang (Van Halen) and Valerie Bertinelli both like it, which I was really happy about. The last thing I want anybody to think was I was trying to benefit from the loss of Eddie. I was only trying to honor his legacy.

Since making "You and Me," Wilson says she has "three different things in the works right now," including upcoming live performances in Montana and with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra. Heart, meanwhile, has a tour offer for 2022 "that looks really nice." As for a new Heart album, she says that, "I think the first thing would be to get Heart on the road. I'm excited about that for sure. We're just trying to push forward with getting back to that live music thing. We seem to be headed there, sorting out the details about how to correctly and safely have live music out under the stars again. So fingers crossed."

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