She’s the one a few steps back from the spotlight backing her sister’s operatic tonsils. But when Ann Wilson gets through with her roof-rattling antics, Nancy Wilson steps into the light to wow the crowds with her guitar prowess. But her vocal talents are impressive as well. Her backing vocals have been a huge part of Heart’s success. Even though Ann is the principal vocalist, it was Nancy who gave the band their first number one Billboard top 100 single with her lead vocal on “These Dreams” from 1985’s Heart, the band’s first number-one-selling album.
Nancy Wilson has been an important composer for the band as well, co-writing many of the band’s biggies, including “Crazy on You,” “Magic Man,” “Barracuda,” and “Straight On.” Wilson also composes movie scores, working on former husband Cameron Crowe’s films including 1995’s Jerry Maguire, 1989’s Say Anything, Almost Famous in 2000, Vanilla Sky in 2001, and Elizabethtown in 2005. Even though You and Me is technically her sophomore release under her own name, the first being 1999’s Live at McCabe’s Guitar Shop, Wilson considers this one her solo debut, coming out on her own label, Carry On Music.
Wilson composed eight of the 12 cuts, fleshed out with some powerful covers. It’s nice to hear Springsteen’s “The Rising” rendered a tad softer than his arena-rocking anthem. But Wilson’s version doesn’t leach any power away; it’s just more intimate, with Wilson’s whispered outro “dream of life” fading it away.
The title cut pays homage to Wilson’s mother, Lois, who passed away in 2006. In a recent Rolling Stone interview, Wilson reveals that the song is a “zero gravity conversation” with her late mother “that exists outside of time and space.”
But the record is not all soft acoustic offerings. “Party at the Angel Ballroom” features a rowdy rhythm section of former Guns N’ Roses bassist Duff McKagan and hard-hitting Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins providing a stiff backbeat over a fistful of gnarly wiggly guitar from Wilson. “It’s a champagne super celluloid, sparkling dirty dancing disco of your dreams,” Wilson sings. “It’s a party in heaven so we can party like hell.”
Red Rocker Sammy Hagar drops in for a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Boxer,” a tune that Wilson has been doing an acoustic live version of with Heart since 2019. The Tequila mogul turns in a remarkably restrained guitar solo to the quasi-plugged-in take of the 1970 rock classic.
Wilson’s “4 Edward” is an acoustic instrumental thank you to Eddie Van Halen, who she got to know when Heart toured with him. When she inquired as to why he never played acoustic guitar, he said he didn’t have one. She promptly gave him one, and he called her at 6 the next morning to play a song he had stayed up all night writing on it. Wilson says as far as she knows he never recorded it, but it was so moving that it stayed in her mind and heart and she finally found a way to acknowledge his gift.
You and Me is a nice gift to us as well, a soft-spoken, heartfelt thank you to fans who have been wanting for years to take a better look at Wilson in a solo spotlight.