L.R.S. - Down To The Core (Review)

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I would class Down To The Core as a very safe album and one that very much stays true to the traditional definition of the genre it represents. But it is also one of the better examples of such, so I have no trouble embracing this. Yes, it could have been a little more adventurous, but what it delivers is super slick, super classy AOR and those vocals are just perfect! 

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Frontiers Records
Monday, June 16, 2014

This is one of the smoothest records I have heard in a long time. It's a very fine slice of mature, well-written and executed traditional AOR, featuring some of the finest people the genre has to offer. First it's a huge pleasure to hear the ear candy vocals of Tommy La Verdi back in the melodic game finally – it's been way too long for a guy with a voice born for this.

And Josh Ramos – one guitarist with an absolute natural affinity for this style of music – has also been underutilized in recent years. Drummer Mike Shotton is an inspired choice to drive the band's sound and his playing style gives the album a thumping beat and slightly progressive twist in several tunes.
The architect of the album is Alessandro Del Vecchio – layering the songs with keyboards as well as writing the bulk of the album's material (Shotton delivers two tracks on his own and Tommy co-writes on a few) – and delivering a stellar production of world class standard.
I was initially surprised at the pace of the album overall – it's a very ballad heavy selection of songs and quite mellow over what I expected. But the more I listened, the more the class of the songs took over and pace/style wasn't an issue.
In fact, looking back, quite a few of my favourite albums over the years have been very mellow and I'm now adding this one to the list. When the mood calls for it, some glossy, traditional AOR with perfect vocals and a laid back vibe is just what is called for.
Think Dare Out Of The Silence, Von Groove Test Of Faith, Magnum Sleepwalking – all very fine, albeit laid back, classy records.

What LRS deliver is a group of songs that everyone reading this is going to feel familiar with. There's the anthemic Journey styled feel good tracks such as the opening Our Love To Stay (which is equal to the tracks that opened the last two Journey albums), Never Surrender and Waiting For Love; then there are the slow wistful polished AOR of I Can Take You There, Almost Over You and the super smooth and ultra-classy Universal Cry; there is a couple of more upbeat and progressive AOR numbers in the brilliant Livin' 4 A Dream and the heavier Down To The Core.
Rounding out the record is the massive power ballads To Be Your Man and Not One Way To Give.
All throughout we get dramatic backing vocals, plenty of guitar fills and some tasteful solo and always those brilliant La Verdi vocals.

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