Ann Wilson teams up with Alison Krauss, Shawn Colvin, kd lang and others
Each one merits mention, because each artist brings a certain level of expertise with them wherever they go. And, as that list of guests would indicate, Hope and Glory is equal parts rock, pop, country and folk. It's an extraordinary mix of music that defies any definable terminology.
Hope and Glory's Brightest Moments
That said, though, the song is quite well done, and is preceded by an exceptional cover of Lucinda Williams' "Jackson." Further into the disc, she enters a decidedly more folk-country realm with Gretchen Wilson on the classic Creedence Clearwater Revival hit "Bad Moon Rising."
Neil Young's "War of Man," kicks off with a vocal intro from Alison Krauss, before clearing out to distorted guitars and the lower end of Wilson's vocal range. Krauss and Wilson trade verses, as the song builds to Wilson's trademark growls. "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" takes a couple of listens. With Wainwright, Colvin and Wilson swapping verses, Dylan's repetitive vocal parts sound a bit contrived at first. Then the Wainwright-ish ambitious arrangement builds, integrating what feels like a hundred vocals and instruments, and the whole thing comes together.
The Bottom Line: Not a Protest Record
Each song has its place in the narrative. Without Wilson's explanation in the liner notes and her self-penned tune at the end of the disc, the record could feel somewhat lacking in direction. However, clear themes of justice and sacrifice, isolation, hope and glory arise.
These themes arise through the poet who sings of a pending storm, the new soldier who begins his training, the couple who've set out to change the world, the immigrants searching for a better life. Not so much a protest record, Hope and Glory is a collection of songs from America's recent past, brought back to reflect upon the lessons that, one would expect, should have been learned by now.