Night Ranger are quite possibly my favourite band around. They are just so consistently good and feature several times already in my all-time Top 30 with such classic albums as Big Life, Midnight Madness, 7 Wishes, Dawn Patrol, Neverland (still underrated!) and Man In Motion of course. Even the Night Ranger album we can’t mention (Feeding Off The Mojo…oops!) was great!
Some fans had a hard time with the band’s modernized and sometimes inconsistent Hole In The Sun album, but how can you go pass such great tracks as Whatever Happened, There Is Life and Rockstar? Every album sees the band deliver some great new tracks.
Anyway…I digress. The band’s “return to form” Somewhere In California was a bonafide new era classic, with hit chorus after chorus making the album a perfect 100 for me and many others.
Not a band to repeat themselves or make the same album twice, I was curious as to what High Road was going to deliver. And I was surprised at the results. Mainly because on first reflection I felt this was the most diverse album the band had ever delivered.
I think there are parts of both Jack and Kelly’s solo sound in here as well as a dose of Damn Yankees style rock n roll and Shaw/Blades also.
Of course the more I listen the more is just sounds like Night Ranger, but I do hear and understand some criticism from a few fans over a few of the tracks included.
After the chorus driven brilliance of the last album, it was always going to be near impossible for High Road to match it. But I think the band came close.
So High Road is a very diverse collection of new songs where choruses play a less prominent role on several songs. It’s also a heavier and harder rocking album and if you go with the flow I think there’s a lot to love here once again. It’s just different.
Track By Track:
High Road – you’ll be hard pressed to find a more brilliant hands-in-the-air anthem than this beauty. Absolute melodic bliss and one of my favorite recent era NR tracks. It has a modern sound, but a huge classic chorus.
Knock Knock Never Stop – at first I thought it a little bit silly and the lyrics aren’t anything spectacular. I thought the chorus was underdone, but in the flow of the album the song has great energy– it’s this album’s answer to Lay It On Me from Somewhere In California and I’ve come to like it a lot.
Rollin' On – I didn’t warm to this song at all for quite a few plays. And it’s not the best song to be rolling out at track 3 I think. The heavy blues rocker with a short chorus is something different, but it really does rock even if it sounds more like Damn Yankees than Night Ranger!
Don't Live Here Anymore – I loved this from the first listen and even more so now. Kelly Keagy sings his ass off here, on a song that has a haunting message and a moody heart, until it explodes out of the gate with some blistering guitar work mid-song. It has a very similar vibe to the wonderful rain Comes Crashing down from Big Life.
I'm Coming Home – I was so excited first time I heard the riff to this song and as it built I just knew the chorus would blow me away. Except it didn’t. I felt as if the chorus was underdone for a while, like it could have gone even higher and bigger. But that thought soon faded and it remains one of my favorite songs on the album. While I think it feels a little like it could have come from either of Kelly’s solo albums, it is also a song that sounds closest to the style of the last album.
X Generation – this is another all-out rocker with a pretty short chorus. It’s not a mind blowing chorus, but I love the pace of the song and the pounding drums (all the drums on this album sound fantastic). It’s a good fun hard rocker that suits the overall album.
Only For You Only – ballad time again and this time it’s a traditional Night Ranger ballad with gorgeous vocals and a nice sentimental message. Can’t go wrong with tracks like these and is another winner.
Hang On – this is a moody rocker with a Mojo style vibe to it. Or a Kelly solo track perhaps, but with those trademark NR backing vocals and the twin guitar attack, it is another cool song for me. Once again the chorus is understated, but with the flow of the album it’s perfectly placed.
St. Bartholomew – this is another big hard rocking track that sounds more AC/DC than it does Night Ranger, but those guitars are so classic in sound it couldn’t be anyone but NR right? The chorus is a grower and more traditional sounding, so I give it two thumbs up.
Brothers – is akin to something off Jack’s solo album or Shaw/Blades. Together with the instrumental LA No Name, I think that the album ends on a weak note after the high energy of the rest of the album as a whole. The track, with its Beatles-esque acoustic harmonies is a classic piece of music, but would have been better used as one if the bonus tracks on offer I think.
Mountain Song is one of the bonus tracks on offer and a fine hard rocking one at that. It fits in with the style of this album used by X Generation and Knock Knock and is well worth hunting down.
Don’t Even Know Your Name should have been on the main album release. This track is a great uptempo melodic rocker with a strong chorus and could have helped even out the album more for those that missed the commercial chorus driven sound of Somewhere In California.