Review by Greg Maki
It should come as no surprise that “Life Screams,” the debut solo release from Lacey Sturm, sounds a lot like Flyleaf, the band she fronted for a decade before leaving in 2012. That’s not a bad thing at all, especially since she leans more on the rougher, heavier side of that sound than the poppier tendencies that crept in over the years.
This is not a case of a former band member trying to cash in on previous success. Sturm isn’t chasing fame and fortune; if she were, she wouldn’t have left Flyleaf when it had been on a steady upward trajectory for several years, and she wouldn’t have waited this long to make her return to the music scene.
Throughout the 11 tracks of “LIfe Screams,” you can feel Sturm’s urgency to spread her message of love and hope. She’s been outspoken about her faith and even wrote a book about it (“The Reason: How I Discovered a Life Worth Living,” published in 2014), but one need not be a Christian to be inspired by her words.
While Sturm doesn’t have a particularly dynamic vocal range, the passion she pours into her performance is unmatched. The album comes screaming out of the gate with “Impossible,” “The Soldier” and “I’m Not Laughing,” and even though the remainder of the disc isn’t as robust, Sturm’s complete conviction makes every song compelling. Even a seemingly curious choice—a cover of The Police’s “Roxanne” recorded live—works in this context.
Despite the sonic similarities, “Life Screams” is not Flyleaf 2.0. With collaborators including guitarist Josh Sturm (her husband), Skillet’s Korey Cooper and Grammy-winning writer/producer David Hodges (formerly of Evanescence), Sturm has crafted a deeply personal album that manages to be both intimate and inclusive. It is a powerful return of one of rock music’s most distinct voices.
(Followspot Records, February 12, 2016)