LUNDEN REIGN – American Stranger (2015)
LUNDEN REIGN is US a band propelled by two women, singer Nikki Lunden and guitarist Lora G, both with an extensive experience in the LA circuit. Lora made a name of herself scoring for documentaries / TV / Radio, winning 5 Emmy Awards.
In less than 2 years, Lunden Reign has already successfully toured America several times, recently the UK, played in European, and some of their songs are featured on RockBand 3 Video Game and some movie soundtracks.
The time for a full length CD arrived, and “American Stranger” is Lunden Reign’s debut with a cover artwork made by famous Ioannis (Deep Purple, Styx, Extreme).
Lunden Reign’s style is quite original: they fuse melodic rock, classic rock, some hard, rock&pop and add to the recipe a touch of progressive. All with very modern sonics.
Lunden Reign is Rock for adults. It’s very easy to the ears yet not commercial, lyrically themed with importance that’s relevant to our current political and societal climate.
Nikki Lunden’s voice draws you in with its steady control and the ability to come off tough and vulnerable all in one breath. Meanwhile the band just meshes with that combo with atypical drum breaks and heavy guitar which slips into a steady beat and light ambiance creating guitar effects.
Musically, Lora G is the conductor. In her composition, she seems more interested in chord structure and its development, but with these subtle flairs of nuance, in each song. She is a riff master, and as you move through the album these riffs define Lunden Reign’s sound, with little variation.
Also, she doesn’t appear to have any interest in playing leads, there’s only few on the entire record. What’s a melodic hard rock oriented album without some thrilling lead guitar solos? Average?
Nevertheless, Lora G’s guitar creations and subsequent interpretations are interesting to ponder.
It would be too easy to compare Lunden Reign to a band like Heart, but there’s something about the chugging guitar in the opening seconds of “Love In Free Fall” that reminds me of Barracuda. However, comparison stops there. You have a nice blend of classic rock with modern sonic touches, and Nikki’s vocals are warm and inviting. The song is muscular and engaging, modern yet classic.
“The Savage Line” follows, and as the first single, it’s the introduction to the band that would have guaranteed success if this kind of Rock still had a place on radio. The feeling is a bit more restrained, and the melody and harmonies in the chorus are subtly catchy, leaving you bobbing your head along before you know it.
“28IF (Without, Which Not)” has a title that is a garble of words and letters, but it’s another highly enjoyable mix of the new and old, and exactly the kind of song that Lunden Reign needs to be building their reputation on. The mix of rock swagger and catchy hooks is well-balanced, and keeps the music from ever feeling the least bit poppy.
The catchy “Hush & Whispers” continues the winning streak, with a driving rhythm and big hook that will probably become the band’s biggest live anthem, while the title track introduces a cello to give an increased sense of drama to the composition.
“Mary” is the album’s centerpiece, and longest song, and features some gorgeously crisp guitar tones that cut through the mix and give the riffs the ability to attack.
A highlight for me is “The Light”, fueled by bold guitar riffs and rolling lyrics, sung with passion by Nikki.
By the time we get to the end of the record, two things are clear; 1) “American Stranger” is one of those rare albums that could benefit from being longer. 2) Lunden Reign has made a damn solid debut album.
It’s that kind of bands / albums pretty hard to define speaking about musical genres, this is a good thing in my book. It’s always refreshing listen to bands trying to push the boundaries.
If you wanna taste something different “American Stranger” is a more than recommended disc, with Lunden Reign honing their welcomed own blend of Rock.
01 – Love In Free Fall
02 – The Savage Line
03 – 28IF (Without, Which Not)
04 – Hush & Whispers
05 – American Stranger
06 – Hear Me
07 – Mary
08 – The Light
09 – When Love Lies
10 – It s About Time
Nikki Lunden – Vocals, Keyboards
Lora G – Guitar, Synths
Matthew Denis – Bass
Steve Ornest – Guitar
Morgan Young – Drums
BUY IT !