LUNDEN REIGN – American Stranger

Cleopatra 2015

LUNDEN REIGN - American Stranger

LUNDEN REIGN –
American Stranger

LA perfection drawing near for heavy, yet progressive, groove and a message to boot.

Big and loud rock ‘n’ roll doesn’t lend itself to art concepts too often, but then, there’s not a lot of female-fronted metallized bands today who don’t fall for either riot grrrl stance or faux operatic, cold melodrama. Singer Nikki Lunden and multi-instrumentalist Lora G, a couple who lead this ensemble, know that too well to play by their own rules and find the right balance between all the concepts. It may take some delving into “American Stranger” to see a bigger picture, a story, behind the album’s songs and the feel the songs’ pull, yet “Love In Free Fall” sucks one slap-bang, without typical introduction, in the midst of the drama, which hints at a specialness of it all.

The catchy drive unfurls as Lunden’s husky voice swirl around G’s riffs, a dance rhythm supporting the passion, even more fiery in “Hush & Whispers” whose handclaps and tom toms are as far away from its title as it gets, while “The Savage Line” marries alt-pop approach to a folk-tinged, cello-abetted intensity and rich vocal harmonies. And if “Hear Me” offers an acoustic lifeline to turn it into a steel cord, the raga-kissed title track and “The Light” get high on the arrangement’s orchestral promise and the same pained, though uplifting, sincerity. And there’s no escape from the six-string twang and piano runs under “When Love Lies” and the title cut’s memorable chorus, so when the noisy finale states “It’s About Time,” that’s all it takes for this ensemble to take off and become if not a household name then not a stranger.

****1/2

July 26, 2015

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