They always call it the difficult second album, but Ron Santee is going from strength to strength, and his sophomore solo release, ‘Cold Blooded Highway’ is more a case of “you ain’t seen nothing yet”‘.
Originally from Ashbury Park, New Jersey, Ron Santee was the front man for an indie rock band, The Battery Electric, based out of New York City. The band made a name for itself touring with the likes of Eagles of Death Metal, King Khan & BBQ Show, Queens Of The Stone Age, and Detroit Cobras. Now, Ron is based in the Joshua Tree Desert, in Southern California, where he’s built a studio, ‘Desert Dog Studios’. His sophomore solo album, ‘Cold Blooded Highway’ was recorded there, and it’s out now.
The ten track album sounds for all the world like it’s been written specifically for a Tarantino soundtrack, and it’s clearly been inspired by Santee’s desert surroundings. The title and opening track is in a cowboy’s lament style, languid and vaguely threatening, yet there’s a certain fun element to it as well. You just know that Santee got a kick out of recording it, as he drops into a surf-rock vibe about 2/3 of the way through.
Track 2, ‘Toodleoo’, is even more fun, upbeat and jangly, allowing Santee to truly let rip his country vibes, and he almost channels Tom Petty at times.
Santee played most of the instruments himself on the album, with help from local musicians, who contributed pedal steel, and slide guitar, among other instrumentals. While his debut album, ‘Wildfire Heart’ was more straightforward rock, this is very definitely a departure, but a strong one.
Skilfully blending rock, country, Americana, and rocksteady, Santee manages to make each song have a different vibe, allowing all listeners to find a favourite, no matter what their musical taste.
Santee even drops into reggae in track 4, ‘Just Ask Me Why’, with steel drums, cowbell, and Hammond organ.