2012 saw the departure of Lacey Sturm from Flyleaf. She announced to her fans that it was her desire to take some time off and focus on her family, an admirable and noble decision for sure. In the hearts of her fans was a feeling of support for her decision, yet at the same time, those feelings were mixed with a hopeful wondering of whether or not we’d hear from Lacey again in the music arena. 2 years passed with hardly a peep as Lacey enjoyed some well deserved time off with her family. Enter October 2014. Lacey released her first book, The Reason: How I Discovered a Life Worth Living, which was something of an autobiography discussing her past, how she came to a place of faith, and how it’s changed her life. It’s an excellent read! Just around the time her book would hit the shelves of our local bookstores, the announcement was made that a band had been assembled for her solo project, aptly titled…”Lacey”.
For many of us, it was a bit of a waiting game as we anticipated the new solo album to be released, wondering what to expect, and in November of 2015, we were treated to the first single off her upcoming album, a song titled “Impossible”. Up until this time we were wondering…would it reflect what she’d been doing with Flyleaf? Would she be changing up the style we were used to hearing her performing in the past? The release of this single answered those questions with a hard rock sound, giving many a great sense of anticipation and excitement for what was to come that following February.
Lacey’s debut solo album, Life Screams , was released on February 12, 2016 and was the first solo album by a female artist to take the #1 spot on the hard rock Billboard charts. Quite an accomplishment! The album is kicked off with the first single, “Impossible”. The sound of the distorted bass, the distinct vocals that build into a ferocious scream in the choruses combined with the harder edged riffs in the song get us ready for an album strongly resembling Flyleaf’s earlier material.
While my familiarity with much of Lacey’s previous work caused me to question if that caused me to compare this album with those of Flyleaf, I eventually decided this wasn’t the case. Sure, her vocals are obviously going to cause us to be reminded of her earlier work, however the effects on much of the guitar throughout the album are also strikingly similar to the sounds of the past. In a world where so many of us “music aficionados” are constantly looking for something new from album to album or are looking that new sound, I personally find it refreshing to see certain musicians and bands sticking with what works, especially when it works as well as it does for Lacey. This sound and this style is hers and she owns it.
The vocals throughout the album are easily the most magnetic aspect of it. Over the years I’ve only found Lacey’s vocals to sound better and better from one album to the next, and, in my opinion, Life Screams features her best work to date. From smooth melodies to scratchy grittiness (the chorus of I’m Not Laughing is a great example of this) to strong, piercing screams, her variety of vocal styles really shines here. “Impossible”, “I’m Not Laughing”, and “Rot” are the tracks that really seem to especially stand out on this album and there’s also a live cover of The Police song “Roxanne”. This “Roxanne” is quite different than the Police original, and in my experience it seems to be a “love it or hate it” track. I find the new take on the song to be a nice deviation and the screams in the chorus are absolutely bloodcurdling, so I’m a fan, but I’ve also spoken with others who’ve found the deviation a bit much.
Life Screams is an album that is certain to be loved by fans of Flyleaf and will appeal to those who may have never heard Lacey before. All around, it’s a very enjoyable listen and one I strongly recommend.