Steelwind - Heaven's Calling

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Steelwind Productions
Catalog Number: STWD
Format: CD
Total Time: 37:53:00

Steelwind are an American band making rock the likes we haven't seen in more than a decade. This is pure AOR, folks; one that will take you back to those heady days of the 80's. Listening to Heaven's Calling you'll think of Journey, REO Speedwagon, Kansas and Boston. Yes, funnily enough, this sometimes sounds like Third Stage period Boston, though the vocalist Kevin Humphrey doesn't sound like Brad Delp exactly; Humphrey's guitar does have that driving and dreamy sound of Tom Scholz, however. As a vocalist, Humphrey has a soft, gentle voice that is, I'm afraid, maybe a bit too saccharine ? a bit too fuzzy around the edges. Imagine Wheels Are Turning Kevin Cronin and you'll have some idea of how Humphrey sounds ? and like Steve Walsh at times, too.

As much as I like this album because it is so like the AOR I grew up with, I'm rather disappointed in how much it sounds like 80's AOR. That is, there isn't a sense of a 00's take on an 80's sound, which means the music here is far from being very fresh?it's MOR AOR. But, Steelwind make it so engaging and play it so well - besides Humphrey, there's Artie Jones on drums, Billy Oliver on keys, Michael Clary on guitar, and Fidel Gutierrez bass (though on the closer "Wounded Soldier" the bassist is Steve Ivey); Jones and Oliver also provide backing vocals.

I should mention that Steelwind are a Christian rock band and the lyrical content strongly reflects that. While I personally don't agree with their religious philosophy, that has nothing to do with my opinions on it as a collection of music. It may seem unnecessary to say that, of course, as you would expect that to be the case. The underlying theme to nearly all the songs is finding salvation in Jesus. In each vignette, we get stereotypical situations - in "Heaven's Calling" it is the partyier who is alone with nothing left once the party's over (I'm sure metaphorically as well as literally speaking). In "On The Rock" it is a "good ol' boy" who has changed his ways after finding Jesus (Steelwind are based in Texas). In "Lean Not To Your Understanding" it is someone who is depressed and in a state of despair. And in "Don't You Know?" it is the prostitute who could change her ways if she let Jesus into her life. Stereotypical, yes, and yet they are also easily recognizable archetypes in which the intended audience can see themselves. "No Compromise" and "In The Name Of Love" take a look at the society as a whole. I have to say there are parts here in "Name Of Love" that I agree with Humphrey on (the albums sole lyricist): we are losing sight of the important things, becoming selfish and self-serving. We sure have, at least Western society. While Humphrey sees God and Jesus as the means to our salvation, I think it is actually ourselves - and that's where we differ. "No Compromise" is, in a way, an attack on the separation of church and state here in the US and what that means - no school prayer, evolution taught in science classes - and at other accepted practices or concepts in Western society (e.g. abortion, assisted suicide). These will be, of course, issues at the forefront of the Bush Administration, though this album predates the election.

While a helpful summation may not be necessary, I do want to restate that, for me, aside from the lyrical content, I quite like this album. And I would recommend this to AOR fans yearning for that classic sound, whether you find affinity with the ideas expressed in it or not.

Heaven's Calling (3:18) / In The Name Of Love (4:32) / Hold On To The Cross (5:04) / On The Rock (3:40) / Lean Not To Your Understanding (4:47) / No Compromise (2:40) / Pretender (3:09) / Don't You Know? (3:51) / Friend In A High Place (3:03) / Wounded Soldier (3:34)

Kevin Humphrey - lead vocals, lead guitar
Artie Jones -drums, backing vocals
Billy Oliver - keys, backing vocals
Michael Clary - guitar
Fidel Gutierrez - bass
Steve Ivey - bass (10)

Heaven's Calling (2000)
Jawhook (2002)
The KH Project (2004) (essentially Humphries solo album, but under the Steelwind name)

Genre: Melodic Rock-AOR

Origin US

Added: March 6th 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website:
Hits: 775
Language: english


[ Back to Reviews Index | Post Comment ]