DESERT DRAGON (Keith St. John) – This Side Of Heaven (2022)
“This Side Of Heaven” is the new release from American classic hard rockers DESERT DRAGON, formed by experienced musicians who have been part of Road Angel, Chaka Kahn band, Jack Russell band, etc, and worked as session musicians on many albums.
Now in the line up DESERT DRAGON features talented vocalist Keith St. John, a well known name in the rock world for his time in Montrose, Lynch Mob, and currently, Kingdom Come and Burning Rain. Adding legendary James “Jimbo” Barton (Rush, Queensryche) at the mixing desk this is a guarantee of a well crafted product.
“This Side Of Heaven” delivers quality bluesy hard rock in the vein of Burning Rain, all with a modern production and spiced with an interesting multi-rock twist including poppy melodies, Americana acoustics and progressive touches.
The compositions are particularly neat and eclectic, having a groove that keeps the listener on their toes, a truly musical variation of genres and styles. The album opens with the song “Bad Luck”, driven by super harmonious guitars and the superb vocal lines of St. John.
“God Bless Miss America” is a slow barn burning, then “Swamp Thing” has all that Mississippi mojo and great atmosphere. I particularly enjoyed the rhythm breaks in “No Way Back”, where the keyboards perform here in an unexpected way that overwhelms you, and the guitars add additional emotions and feelings with their perfectly distilled notes.
“Lock And Loud” has a special sound color due to his saxophone from the start and an energetic rhythmic section that is decorated with swirling guitar solos that are performed according to the classic rock book.
“Southside Of Heaven” is a lengthy song with stunning arrangements, a strong vocal work and a touch of oriental flair and it features the violinist Adel Eskander, from the Page/Plant No Quarter Tour. “Pictures In A Magazine”, “Vulture City” and “Save My Soul” fall in line with the album’s overall quality: very good.
A powerful bluesy rocking album, “This Side Of Heaven” delivers solid songwriting and top notch musicianship served with passion. For those who believe that by 2022 there is no more to say about this musical style, you’ll be surprised. It is wild and subtle, fiery and controlled… timeless, immortal classic rock.
01 – Bad Luck
02 – God Bless Miss America
03 – Swamp Thing
04 – What It Means to Me
05 – No Way Back
06 – Lock and Load
07 – Southside of Heaven
08 – Pictures in a Magazine
09 – Vulture City
10 – Save My Soul
Keith St. John [Montrose, Lynch Mob] (vocals)
Greg Patnode [Road Angel] (guitar)
Brent Barker [Chaka Kahn] (guitar)
Rick Brandt (bass)
Lenny Roberto [Jack Russell band] (drums)
Michael Smith (keyboards)
Adel Eskander [Page/Plant No Quarter Tour] (violin on 7)