35 years and Night Ranger is stronger than ever! On March 24th 2017 the band saw the release of their twelfth studio album, Don’t Let Up, and believe me they do not let up! Night Ranger are known for their most popular song, the ballad “Sister Christian”. While the song was a career defining moment for the group, it also put them in the position of following it up. While they did that with the ballad, “When You Close Your Eyes”. It unfairly forced the band into writing the next hit “ballad” which they tried to do with “Sentimental Street” and “Goodbye”. It’s unfortunate because it took the focus off what they do best and that is ROCK! Make no mistake, Night Ranger is an in your face, hard rocking band that to this day put on a show that has more energy than a band half their age. I witnessed that exact thing on this year Monsters of Rock Cruise and Brian Ronald has the photos to prove it. The new music on Don’t Let Up only serves to prove this point.
Don’t Let Up is the third installment in what I consider the great reinvention of Night Ranger. The roll started with 2011’s Somewhere in California, followed by 2014’s excellent High Road, and Don’t Let Up just continues the trend with more rocking tunes. The album opens with the fast paced “Somehow Someway” which is a good example of what Night Ranger do best, combine a great melody with up tempo rhythm to create a song that makes you feel good. They did it back in 1982 with “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me” and are still doing with “Somehow Someway”.
One thing that is different about Night Ranger now vs. then is that lead singers Jack Blades and Kelly Keagy sing in tandem on songs instead of just having their own songs. “Running Out of Time” is a good example of this. “Truth” takes a more serious tone, while “Day and Night” takes a heavier approach. The title track is just a great, uplifting song about not giving up. “(Won’t Be Your) Fool Again” is a good, bluesy kind of track that original guitarist Brad Gillis and new keyboard player Eric Levy shine on. “Say What You Want” is a fast rocker, and “We Can Work It Out” is a cool mellow tune that treads on being a ballad. For me “Comfort Me” may be my favorite song. You can just feel the wind in your hair while you are driving with the window down while listening to this song. The album ends with “Jamie” which has a good, heavyish riff and the ballady “Nothing Left of Yesterday”. This is a solid album from start to finish, not filler! It was nice to see that new guitarist Keri Kelly also contributed to the songwriting on four of the songs. All in all, if every song was worth one point I would give Don’t Let Up a 9.5 out of 10.
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