Who: Heaven & Earth
Where: Los Angeles CA
What: flying the proud flag of Classic Rock with an underlying blue feel to it
Sounds Like: shades of Deep Purple and the spectrum of the Rainbow and more recently their own voice
Stuart Smith’s Heaven & Earth found its origins back in 1997 deep in the Los Angeles valley when he released his self debut showing how having friends in high places gets you a long way in opening up doors in the music business. The student of Ritchie Blackmore not only pays homage to his teacher, but has since continued to develop his own style and no longer depends on his connections but has clearly dug deep and created his own cohesive band anchored in the vocals of Joe Retta.
Over two decades Heaven & Earth have managed to only release 4 full length recordings so needless to say the output frequency is extremely low. However the qualities of the recordings are polarized and are of exceptionally high quality. The latest recording is Hard To Kill with an ease to thrill that not only meets but exceeds its impressive predecessor Dig.
While the most obvious group additions come in the form of A1 session drummer Kenny Arnonoff, bassist Lynn Sorenson and keyboard player Ty Bailie seamlessly step in so much so that you essentially forget the top players they were replacing. Even more notable is that with the exception of a few songs credited to Retta and Smith alone, the songs credit the entire band which is reflected in a much unified planetary performance somewhere between heaven and earth.
As for the material itself, it is all killers and no fillers with the 48 minutes of playing time just flying by leaving you wanting more. But it is not just about the playing but also the presentation with a stunning artistic cd booklet along with an accompanying DVD. The stellar music opens up with the frantic “Hard To Kill” followed later by the toe tapping “Till It’s Over” complimented by “The Game Has Changed” which clearly shows Heaven & Earth are more than capable of moving you. Counter the above songs with the “L.A. Blues” (the title gives it away) along with the mid tempo “Bleed Me Dry” (the closest you get to a ballad), Hard To Kill gives you bit of everything.
Much like the prior release Dig, Heaven & Earth are still flying high the Classic Rock flag and creating music that is very familiar. However with Hard To Kill this band is showing more and more shades and hues of their own voice versus the color Purple or for that matter the Rainbow. With yet another stellar recording to their name completed, while by no means an undiscovered artist high recognition to Heaven & Earth is long way overdue.
New Artists coming at you all the time.