Album Review: NIGHT RANGER – High Road

Night Ranger - High Road

Frontiers Records [Release date 06.06.14]

It’s encouraging to see Night Ranger try and break out of the nostalgia circuit and proving their enduring relevance with new product, this album coming three years after a return to form in Somewhere In California.

The title track, which went down a treat at their recent headlining appearance at Frontiers Rock Festival In Italy, opens with a real statement of intent- instantly catchy with a strong hook and a ‘yeah-yeah’ chorus that radio would pick up on if there were interest in veteran acts new material.

However things then take a dip in quality by their high standards, with ‘Knock Knock Never Stop’ the sort of off-cut that Aerosmith would have rejected and ‘Rollin On’ rather too derivative of the likes of Firehouse and Warrant.

Nevertheless ‘Don’t Live Her Anymore’, which sees a first vocal of the album from drummer Kelly Keagy, is a refreshing departure with a seventies feel, building from a brooding Bad Company-esque intro to an organ solo from Erik Levy and guitar solos as an epic stretches to nearly six minutes.

‘I’m Coming Home’ has some great melodic hooks, ‘X Generation’ radiates the energy of a younger band as the twin guitars break out, and ‘Only For You Only’ proves that 30 years after ‘Sister Christian’,  NR still have the knack of writing a ballad that tugs at the heart strings.

One of the album’s delights is that each succeeding song presents a different side to their game:  ‘Hang On’ and ‘St Bartholemews’ have a more uptempo edge to them, the latter’s style offering a clue why Aerosmith have used Jack Blades as a songwriter over the years, before ‘Brothers’ has the laid back, folk rock  feel of their native California, with some vocal harmonies that would have sat well on the Shaw-Blades albums and ‘LA No Name’ closes out the album in unexpected fashion with duelling acoustic guitars from Joel Hoekstra and Brad Gillis.

This album took a couple of listens to fully appreciate but while perhaps  not as consistent throughout as ‘Somewhere In California’, the highs on this album and its sheer diversity continue Night Ranger’s current hot streak of form.  ****

Review by Andy Nathan 

Frontiers Festival review

 


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