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HEAVEN AND EARTH
WINDOWS TO THE WORLD

Frontiers Records FRCD 068
Produced by: Howard Leese

Released: JANUARY 15
Relatives: Rainbow, Purple, B. Rouge
GENRE: Hard Rock
OVERALL: 96%

  1. Dogs Of War
  2. World's Apart
  3. If Only Love
  4. Jade
  5. Broken Arrow
  6. Prisoner
  7. Away From Harm
  8. Through Your Eyes
  9. Windows To The World
  10. Politician
  11. Years Gone By
  12. Gone By Morning

Stuart Smith burst onto the scene a couple of years ago with a most outstanding debut album of solid blues based rock 'n' roll. The guy has lots of cool friends, most of who appeared on that album. The success of that release led to the pressure of a follow up, which after nearly 12 months of work is due to be released in January.
This is another great album by Stuart, doing just what I hoped it would - it takes the best aspects and personality of the debut and uses them to built the new album in a more consistent and better flowing form.
This album has it's own personality, musically and stylistically and is an album that I think that will gather as many fans as the debut did.
Once again Stuart has surrounded himself with some fine names, especially with the writers involved in the songwriting. The recording band is far more settled, with the same line up featured on all the album's tracks. That has led to a greater consistency in the musical style and flow of the album.
And that is the most noticeable thing about the new album - this is a true band record. For the record, the Heaven And Earth band are Stuart Smith, Kelly Keeling, Richie Onori & Arlen Schierbaum. Using the one singer and the same studio band always helps create a more consistent flow with any record.
The production, handled by Howard Leese, is not quite as sharp as the debut, this is a looser and more live feeling recording.
As for the sound, it has all the blues and organ drenched qualities of the debut, but Stuart has created a generally more hard rocking album this time around. Add the hard rocking Keeling as vocalist and the fate is sealed!
There are plenty of blues moments here, but there is definitely more rock than before.
Track By Track:
Dogs Of War is everything you might think and opening track might be. After a short intro, it's an in your face, uptempo'd, heavy rocker.
And to complete it, a lovely acoustic/electric solo that brings on an extended musical interlude.
The first big surprise of the album comes as early as track 2 - World's Apart, written with the assistance of the great Jamie Kyle. This is a pure AOR anthem and melodic bliss for anyone who reads this site. It's a uptempo acoustic driven anthem ballad. The hooks and chorus are simply sensational, surrounded by a subtle organ accompaniment.
And to be perfectly frank, this song contains my favorite Kelly Keeling vocal performance ever. I just love it.
If Only Love was co-written with the help of Jamie Kyle and Jack Ponti and continues the more AOR styled theme with a song that opens with the familiar 'old English' acoustic guitar sound that was so cool on the debut album.
A little more laid back in tempo than World's Apart, it has a happy go lucky feel to it, especially in the lifting chorus.
Jade is pure Deep Purple. Keeling does a killer Ian Gillan vocal on this track that could have come from just about any Deep Purple album. A good song for 70's blues rock fans.
Broken Arrow is slow, dark and a pure blues track. Keeling I think is more at home vocally on the rock tracks, but still does a good job on this smoldering blues track. It sounds a little like something Joe Lynn Turner would normally sing.
Prisoner sees another familiar name involved in the song writing. Richie Blackmore joins Keeling and Smith to write this hard rocking, uptempo anthem track that again sees Keeling on top of his game. Lots of guitar and lots of hard edged vocals and a even couple of subtle tempo changes.
Away From Harm features the two Kelly's (Hansen and Keeling) and Jay Schellen and Smith in the writing credits.
This track is a tougher and more aggressive rock track, that with the previous song and the opening track are the heaviest moments of the album.
Through Your Eyes is a beautiful blues based pop rock ballad that Joe Lynn Turner has helped co-write. The sound of the debut is again evident as the chorus rises to anthem proportions and another great melodic hook. Another great Keeling vocal.
Windows To The World is more or less, a good straight ahead rocker. Politician is similar, but employs more of that big Hammond organ that brings a more bluesy sound to the track.
Years Gone By is the official end to the album. This is a beautiful instrumental written by Howard Leese that sounds like something from the Titanic soundtrack, or that old medieval sound that Stuart and other artists of this ilk love.
Gone By Morning is a hidden track that follows on beautifully from the instrumental in that it is an old English style medieval acoustic jig. It's a good fun song that ends the album on a positive note. Keeling's vocal fit the track perfectly.
BOTTOM LINE: Basically, straight to the point, this is a great bluesy hard rock album. There is more here this time to please AOR fans and possibly more for hard rock fans with the inclusion as Kelly Keeling on vocals and some fine guitar work by Stu. His best to date in fact.
The vibe of this album is different over the debut, but the quality is all there. There will be some that favor this album over the debut, for it's more accessible and consistent sound.
I can't say wither way which one I prefer, they are both classy rock albums.
PRODUCTION: 92% SONGS: 96% VIBE: 98%ATTITUDE: 98%
ESSENTIAL FOR: Fans of the debut, all blues & great melodic hard rock fans and Kelly Keeling fans.
DISCOGRAPHY:Stuart Smith's Heaven & Earth . Windows To The World



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