L.R.S.: Down to the Core review

Owner of Frontiers Records, Serafino Perugino, has a long history and strong penchant for bringing together some of AOR’s finest musicians and vocalists. So it should come as no surprise that he and the good people at Frontiers are at it again. Cashing in on the success of W.E.T. and the current building momentum behind supergroups, they give you their newest amalgamation- L.R.S. The name L.R.S. is an acronym for the last names of the three principle players involved in the project, vocalist Tommy LaVerdi from 21 Guns, Guitarist Josh Ramos from Hardline and drummer Michael Shotten from Von Groove. The new album, Down To The Core is astonishingly good for how quickly it came together and proves that good things really do come in threes. Down To The Core was recorded in Somma Lombardo Italy. It was produced by Alessandro DelVecchio, who also handled the majority of the songwriting. DelVecchio played to each artist’s strengths and the resulting album is a melodic masterpiece that is a breath of fresh air. So many so-called supergroups get crushed under the weight of expectations, by pandering to myopic demands, but that is not the case for L.R.S. and the alluring hooks and soaring choruses of opener “Our Love Is Here To Stay” let you know right out of the gate that this won’t be far removed from the last couple of Journey albums or the stunning debut by The Storm. While “I Can Take You There” and “Not One Way To Give” are cleverly crafted mid tempo rockers that showcase soulful choral harmonies, the ethereal melodies and lush harmonies of lead single and video “Livin’ For A Dream” make it easy to see why it was chosen to introduce the band to the AOR fans around the world. Much like the band, the video is missing a bass player. The keyboards in “Never Surrender” recall the first solo album by Valentine vocalist Hugo. At the same time, the simple yet effective chords of the atmosperic ballad “Almost Over You” are hauntingly beautiful. It is the second single and video from the album and it too is absent a bass player, once again putting all the focus on the power trio of LaVerdi, Ramos and Shotten. The Hammond organ in the choruses of “Shadow Of A Man” adds lush layers of melody to the rich vocal tapestries while LaVerdi’s sensual vocals during the chorus of “Universal Cry” are the perfect compliment to the song’s smouldering ambiance in the esoteric verses. They are both quintessential examples of what great AOR is all about. Not to be outdone, the strident riffs, incisive songwriting and scoarching solos of tracks like title track “Down To The Core” and “Waiting For Love” take it up a notch and serve as some of the album’s more raucous and audacious moments. In stark contrast, “To Be Your Man” and “I Will Find My Way”  are attention grabbing power ballads that combine the accessible melodies of 70’s era Bread with the exquisite vocal harmonies of Steve Perry. Here’s the bottom line- If you were ever a fan of these illustrious and masterful artists’ previous bands or body of work, then you simply must give Down To The Core a listen as it takes all the best elements of worldclass AOR and puts it all in one glorious place. Rating: 8.5/10 -Eric Hunker