Call it a comeback. Or a reunion. Or a milestone. In fact, Lonestar’s “Life As We Know It” is all three rolled into one.
A comeback because after original vocalist Richie McDonald left six years ago to pursue a solo career, replacement Cody Collins made 2010’s “Party Heard Around The World” an acceptable Lonestar album, but it wasn’t the same.
A reunion because now McDonald is back in the fold for the first time since “Mountains” and Lonestar sounds more vibrant than ever. As the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder…and the band better.
And a milestone because this year marks Lonestar’s 20th anniversary of making crowd-pleasing modern country, as the dozen songs on “Life As We Know It” prove. The album is also the first to be released on their own label, and the first they produced themselves. Why the DIY approach? Drummer Keech Rainwater calls self-producing “a no-brainer,” adding, “no one knows what Lonestar should sound like better than Lonestar.”
So what does “Life As We Know It” sound like? Some pop, some rock, but mostly contemporary country — with the band’s trademark melodies and harmonies intact. And yes, the production is pitch-perfect for their sound.
The one-two punch of singles “The Countdown” and “Maybe Someday” kick off the album in fine style — the first rocking out with an anthemic chorus, the next a power ballad that ups the ante with searing guitars.
While the jaunty “How Can She Be Everywhere” also features plenty of licks, it’s the lighthearted, rapid-fire lyrics that stick in the brain. Then harmony-heavy “Pretty Good Day” brings in acoustic picking, followed by keyboards highlighting the sweet ballad “With My Eyes Open.”
But the album doesn’t stay in the slow lane for long. “Party All Day” shifts back into high gear — a good-time,stomping sing-along. And the title track’s ringing guitars and irresistible harmonies keep spirits high… which for Lonestar, is what it’s all about.
In short, fans will call “Life As We Know It” a keeper.