SANTA ANA WINDS – Steel Breeze (2021) Out of print
SANTA ANA WINDS is a unique project, both in its approach and in its development. The main idea is to take a handful of little-known AOR songs from big names inside and outside of the melodic rock field, and breathe new life into them through a careful cast of top-level musicians. All this through a purely AOR filter and made with the greatest care and taste.
“Steel Breeze” is the 2nd release under the SANTA ANA WINDS moniker, with new musicians and a different producer – by Dave Draper, who also perform an array of instruments – bringing a new sound, plus talented vocalists like J.D. Kelly (From The Fire), Steevi Jaimz (ex Tigertailz) and Vicky Jackson.
Limited to 500 copies, SANTA ANA WINDS’ ”Steel Breeze” is already sold out.
These are awesome classy AOR songs written by AOR gurus like Janet Morrison Minto, Pamela Barlow, R. Carter, etc.
The first installment of this project materialized in 2016 with a debut album that featured the vocal talents of the sadly late David A. Saylor (Push UK, Wild Rose), Brad Henshaw (Kings Road) and Rebecca Owen, putting together a marvelous choral work in which they paid just tribute and revitalized pieces by Stan Bush, Charlie or Outside Edge.
For this new chapter, the work of musical archeology searching for potential AOR jewels has been equally commendable, this time recovering ten unjustly forgotten treasures that deserve a new opportunity.
The team of musicians selected for the occasion lives up to the ambitious project. Thus, and when it comes to voices, we have an old acquaintance for fans of melodic rock, such as JD Kelly (From The Fire), who puts his voice to the bulk of the songs.
Steevi jaimz, who was the vocalist of the first Tigertailz, does the same in two other tracks, and it is a joy to know that he is still in good shape. Closing the list of singer is Vicky Jackson, best known for her work in the field of dance music but which fits perfectly with her powerful vocal range.
On the instrumental side, the virtuous work on the guitar of Drew Lowe stands out, who was a member of an early Inglorious line-up, with fellow producer Dave Draper (Ginger, The Wildhearts) handling the rest of the music.
And what to say about the songs themselves, but that the selection is exquisite and that each and every one of them holds within it the potential to lift a band to triumph. Everything here has the aroma of a massive hit, from the very beginning with those dry guitar strums with which “You and Me in The Night” starts, originally a demo by the Americans Billy Satellite, a band that only released one album in the ’80 but that it is fair to remember, since with jewels like this under their belt they deserved better luck. Although the original has that eighties charm that cannot be imitated, that adolescent spirit of “boy seeks to conquer girl”, the treatment given here breathes new energy and gives the song a new dynamism, making it simply irresistible.
“Under The Spell” was recorded by the Doobie Brothers in 1991, when its sound had little to do with that funky seventies and was closer to the canons that the era dictated for more commercial rock. A song that could well be signed by any of the greats of the genre that we like and that affects the idea that when the AOR dominated the charts, many old bands found a second youth in this sound.
Something similar happens with “Somebody To Love”, a wonderful piece recorded in 1992 by veteran Mama’s Prideand elevated here to melodic heaven, with a simply stratospheric Lowe guitar solo.
The melancholic piano of “New York (Hold her Tight)” tells us a sad story of failure and broken dreams, one of those tales with overtones of reality wrought with all the magic and fantasy that only a colossus like Van Stephenson could radiate. The performance here, although far from the clearly Westcoast aura of the original, is equally intimate and passionate, in a more than remarkable tribute to the figure who sang it for the first time in that distant 1981.
Each of the ten songs tells its own story of success and failure. Thus, “Runnning With The Night” is a song by none other than Lionel Richie, perhaps not very well known if you are not a fan of the Alabama Star, but which he continues to perform today and that could already appeal to lovers of the lighter AOR, as it complies with the canons of the genre, so its inclusion here is more than justified.
For its part, “You Don’t Know” is not a theme it has been excluded from the sessions of Mark Free’s “Long Way From Love”, although it may seem so, but it is the work of Darin Scheff, brother of the former bassist and singer from Chicago since the mid-80s, Jason Scheff.
The rest of the titles were recovered from obscure demos belonging to the Barlow / Minto tandem, authentic legends responsible for composing some of the greatest songs in the history of the AOR, which made up the bulk of Alien’s first work (1988), and the album of Fake ID (“Dreaming Ezekiel”).
With these credentials you can already assume that the songs are of the highest category. “Every Time I See You” and its powerful guitar melody, “We Knew This Love”and its stadium-busting potential, “Long Last Look” with Vicky’s voice taking center stage, and “The Thunder”, catchy like few others.
All of them could have appeared in the debut of the Swedes and did not clash with classics like “Tears Don’t Put Out The Fire” or “Go Easy”.
In short, ten songs that are overflowing with freshness and that leave you wanting more. And it is that before initiatives like this we can only say thank you. Thank you for giving new life to wonderful pieces hidden in the trunk of oblivion, thank you for letting us know and thank you for doing it through the AOR.
Careful work like this deserves its reward and we hope it comes in the form of recognition. The 500 copies stay short so hope the project can be continued soon. (only for contributors = get lossless)
01 – You me in the night [lead vocals J.D. Kelly]
02 – Every time I see you [lead vocals J.D. Kelly]
03 – New York (hold her tight) [lead vocals J.D. Kelly]
04 – Under the spell [lead vocals J.D. Kelly]
05 – The thunder [lead vocals Steevi Jaimz]
06 – You don’t know [lead vocals J.D. Kelly]
07 – Somebody to love [lead vocals J.D. Kelly]
08 – Running in the night [lead vocals J.D. Kelly]
09 – We knew this love [lead vocals Steevi Jaimz]
10 – Long last look [lead vocals Vicky Jackson]
Dave Draper – all instruments
Drew Lowe – guitars
Emily Ewing – backing vocals
J.D. Kelly (From The Fire)
Steevi Jaimz (ex Tigertailz)
out of print