One of the things most frequently noted about Vancouver-based singer-songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist Amanda Dean is that she makes the listener firmly believe the message in her songs.
Amanda Dean digs deep down to bring heartrending tenors with a voice that has been described as gravelly and rich, yet somehow smooth, soulful, old school, and impactful.
With her most recent release being the profound single, "Like Air,” Amanda Dean provides her audience with a heartfelt duet enlisting Grammy-nominated Ambassador of Soul, Ellis Hall. Also featuring India’s King of Strings Jolly Mukherjee, the power ballad instills a sense of soul-infused fury raging in the realm of heartrending love. How Amanda Dean’s vocals dip between elusive and prevalent hues of resonance is remarkable.
Cascading with the bellows of Ellis Hall, the dynamism etched into “Like Air,” carries a fortified tone that is heavy in its impact, yet feathery on the soul. These kindred spirits attract the luminous victories they deserve. As soon as you incorporate the sustaining strings of Jolly Mukherjee you’re transported to this striking soundscape rich in grippingly raw emotion. We appreciate the various genres that are molded into this spectrum of everlasting hope as we grasp “Like Air,” in a refreshing way.
This masterpiece is timeless and erupts sudden bursts of nostalgia through our very being as we comprehend the intricately crafted words infiltrating our thoughts. Merging in unison, each artist compliments one another’s talents as the contrast is larger than life in “Like Air.”
Welcome to BuzzMusic, Amanda Dean, we absolutely love the power ballad that is “Like Air.” Could you please share your inspiration behind the song?
"Like Air" was actually written several years ago, in 2008, I think! I was in my studio playing piano and just fooling around with chords. I found a chord progression I really liked, and the chorus's melody stemmed from that in no time. I put together a rough demo of what I had, and my husband Brian (who is also a songwriter) heard it and wrote the melody for the verse. I then added a pre-chorus and Brian came up with the melody for the bridge. We wrote the lyrics together. I recorded an initial version of the song and it had potential, but it didn't really sound like what I imagined in my head. I had produced it in the box with a drum machine and keyboard strings, which was part of the problem, I think. It wasn't even called "Like Air" back then. I sat on that version for a few years. It has been through several versions since then and has evolved. My production skills had improved a lot as time went by, and I eventually re-recorded it for my album "Rise Like A Phoenix" (which is due to be released later this year). I am glad that it was never released until now. I brought in another songwriter friend - Lillooet Fox, to rewrite some of the lyrics and enlisted the help of some excellent local musician friends (Shawn Soucy on drums and Billy Mendoza on bass) to record the bed tracks. Then, I re-recorded all the guitars and piano myself and we re-did the vocals. Jolly Mukherjee and Ellis Hall were later involved in the project. Initially, it wasn't going to be a duet. I am finally happy with how it sounds and how it fits the vision I originally had for the song.
In your own words, what does “Like Air,” mean to you, and what would you like your audience to take away from it?
In recent times, there seems to be a lack of classic love songs that don't rely on suggestive lyrics or a gimmick, so we wanted to create a timeless love song. We aimed to reflect that in the production values and also in the imagery in the music video, much the same as Silk Sonic have done with their latest excellent release, although the timing of that was a coincidence. I am glad to see that coming back! The song also reflects my soul/R&B influence, and hopefully, listeners will appreciate the lengths we went to production-wise to make the recording sound organic, with real instruments, like it was done back in the day of classic duets from artists like Lionel Richie and Diana Ross, or Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.
At what point did you know that you would recruit Ellis Hall and Jolly Mukherjee to be part of this flourishing record? You all sound amazing together. What was it like working with one another?
Thank you! As I said, "Like Air" was originally just going to be me on vocals. My friend and co-writer Lillooet Fox and I were listening to the song and she said "Hey, this would be great as a duet!" I agreed, and we thought "The Ambassador of Soul" Ellis Hall would be perfect for this. How can you not be a fan of this man and his voice/musicianship? Lillooet had co-written a song a few years back that Ellis had sung lead vocals on for an album by Los Angeles-based producer Terry Wollman (who ironically, we are now co-writing another song with for the album) so the connection was there. We sent the song to Ellis and his manager/wife Leighala. She responded to us and said that Ellis loved the song and my voice and he would love to be involved! He knocked it out of the park with his vocals and he also played Hammond B3 and contributed to the arrangement. I couldn't be happier with what he did, as if there was any doubt with an artist of his level! Regarding Jolly Mukherjee, I knew I wanted real strings on this track. I had initially written a string arrangement on keyboard strings. Another friend of mine, Bud Bremner, who is a world-class mastering engineer (he mastered the song) is a good friend of Jolly. So he connected us. Jolly is known in his native India as "The King Of Strings" as he has provided string arrangements and string recordings (plus vocals!) for many, many Bollywood movies. He is very versatile though and has provided strings for many artists, including Bjork. He added his own spin on my original arrangement, added a couple of sections, and just made some great improvements to it. I absolutely love what he did! It's a real honor to collaborate with such major talents as Ellis and Jolly and I am very grateful to have them contribute to the song.
How does “Like Air,” reflect the sounds and messages to be heard on your forthcoming album ‘Rise like a Phoenix?'
The album is a bit of a mixed bag in terms of styles, but it makes sense to the listener as they cross over somewhat. Even "Like Air", which is a soul song, has a somewhat rock-influenced guitar solo! My goal for the album was to not have the same song duplicated ten times but to create a "sonic-soup" of all of my influences to add interest and diversity. It's a nice mix of soul, pop, and rock and hopefully shows different sides to my artistry, whilst telling a story and hopefully successfully presenting itself as a cohesive body of work. "Like Air" is definitely the most romantic song on the album!