Friday, August 16, 2013

Steel Breeze - Heart on the Line

This month marks the thirtieth anniversary of Heart on the Line, the second studio album from California's Steel Breeze. For this album the group had gone through some line-up changes, adding Kevin Chalfant on vocals and Loren Haas on keyboards (both formerly of the band 707), and J. Schock on drums.

Unlike their self-titled 1982 debut Steel Breeze (click here for that review), the 1983 follow-up was a little tough to track down to listen to for this review. But, once again, the Internet did not let me down (thanks, YouTubers).

Side one opens with the title track. "Heart on the Line" is a mid-tempo tune about taking a chance on love. I like the way the keyboards dance gently on the subdued percussion.

"Easy Way Out" has a bit of a Cars sound during the opening and verses, thanks to the keyboards and guitars. The lyrics tell of a turning point in a relationship, where the guy decides to cut his losses and calls it quits.

"Survivor" continues the theme of breaking up; here, the guy confidently declares he will be fine going it alone after the big split. Haas' keyboards are featured quite prominently during the instrumental bridge.

"I Remember" reflects upon those early days of dating back in high school. It does a good job capturing that wide-eyed optimism of adolescence without coming across as too sugary-sweet.

"Hard to Get" kicks things up with a confident rocking swagger. It brings to mind a bombshell is a tight dress, high heels and voluminous hair turning heads in a crowded bar.

Side two starts off with "Temptation Eyes", a cover of the 1971 hit single by another California band the Grass Roots. Steel Breeze, with a little help from guest saxophonist Clarence Clemons (from Bruce Springsteen's E. Street Band), does a good job bringing this one into the 80's for a new generation.

"Never Again" deals with the subject of cheating in a relationship.

"I'm Here" is a white-knight tale of a guy who will cross the globe to find and retrieve the one he loves. It even features some richer string sounds near the end, adding to that whole fairy tale vibe.

"Communication" too has a very prominent, very 80's keyboard sound to it. That portion of the music actually reminds me quite a bit of Bon Jovi's "Runaway" which was bouncing around the airwaves in 1983.

"Try a Little Harder" closes out the record with a song that, I think, is actually a lot closer to the songs from the first album.

Despite its name, Steel Breeze had a hard time with the winds of change. I venture a guess that such a large change in their line-up led to a loss of momentum off their debut. After Heart on the Line which I found to be a decent listen, the group stepped out of the public eye. In 1989, they returned with another line-up shift for their third album. The 90's would bring still another line-up change and two final albums.

No comments: