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JFH Music Review

Lacey Sturm, Life Screams

Lacey Sturm
Life Screams

Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Rock / Hard Rock
Album length: 11 tracks: 38 minutes, 15 seconds
Street Date: February 12, 2016


When former Flyleaf vocalist, Lacey Sturm, walked away from the band, fans were understanding of her reasons, but were obviously disappointed. The disappointment came to a crescendo when Flyleaf's first post-Lacey album was an underwhelming outing. In the meantime, Lacey did some work with Billy Graham and released her memoir, The Reason. Now, nearly three and a half years later, Lacey is returning with her first solo record. Life Screams was written with her husband and guitarist, Joshua Sturm. While Flyleaf took a more pop/rock approach after her departure, Lacey herself, has gone for the hard rock sound -- complete with screamed vocals -- that fans loved. If you thought Lacey was going to come back soft, think again.

The album kicks off heavy with the lead single, "Impossible." The chorus is an anthem to God's power as she sings, "Every morning I see another miracle. I can't believe I'm living them impossible. We are the same; we are the wonder. Another day of living the impossible." "The soldier" starts with a more mellow tone, but develops into a really rocking riff for the chorus. Two hard rockers lead into one of the album's best cuts. "I'm Not Laughing" carries a really great vibe and just straight-up jams from front to back. It gets more intense at the end as Lacey repeatedly screams, "I'm not like you!" After three solid songs, one of the more interesting segments of the record begins. In "Vanity," Lacey and rapper Propaganda (the antagonist) have a spoken word battle back and forth about love. Propaganda is the king of spoken word, and while his appearance is unexpected, it's an excellent addition. The head-banger "Rot" (originally played live as "Vanity & Rot") picks up thematically from where "Vanity" left off. Lacey sings with conviction at the end of the verse as she says, "Oh my God, save my soul." The lyrics in the chorus itself challenge what the world calls beauty with, "The most disgusting lies are dressed in beauty that'll rot. Oh my God, You've won the coldest battle we have fought; deliverance is mine from all of this beauty that'll rot." "You're Not Alone," written after the death of a family member, starts with the sound of medical equipment and a beeping EKG. Instead of just adding sound effects in to go along with the message of the song, Lacey cleverly uses the effects with the rhythm of the song; the sounds become part of the music and not just a tacked on sound to gain extra effect. This method is far more creative and impactful. The album starts taking a more mild approach starting with "You're Not Alone" and culminates with the title track and "Faith" -- which are two of the softest songs on the album (the former being very reminiscent of something like "Bury Your Heart" from New Horizons).

The placement of the live Police cover, "Roxanne," is a little odd at second-to-last, but it's extremely well done, with Lacey and her band changing the song up a lot musically. The signature single down stroke guitar rhythm in the verses has been completed replaced by a much slower picked electric guitar, but the chorus goes full on rock 'n' roll and features Lacey screaming "Roxanne!" for the final lyric each time through. Some may question why she would include a song about a prostitute on the record, but it actually goes along with the message of hope that floods Life Screams. The lyrics are actually about encouraging the character to leave that lifestyle and in no way glorify prostitution. The additional lyrics included at the end really sell the point: "I know your heart is broken and it's left you so wide open. I know your heart is broken, Roxanne. Don't try to pick up the pieces, just leave 'em where they lie. I'm gonna give you a new heart tonight." These additional lyrics change the entire outlook of the song and make it a message from God and not just from some other guy. There are a couple of other lyrical changes to point out for the purists out there. The order of the first verse is changed and the repeated "Roxanne" from the chorus is dropped. The album closer is the acoustic number "Run to You" (not the Third Day song Lacey was featured in from Revelation). Despite the high energy and screams early in the album, the album's last song is very likely the most emotionally charged vocal performance present. The lyrics are inspired by the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). The words are quite powerful as Lacey sings, "I'll let you go if that's what you want, but I hope you know my love won't stop. You say it's not true and you call me a fool, but call out my name: I'll run to you." The song is the perfect closer and after one listen, you'll understand why the live track wasn't last on the track listing (which would be a more typical placement).

Lacey Sturm leaving Flyleaf left a void for many fans. She was such a powerful force and voice, and the band's music never really felt watered-down or generic. Thankfully, she has brought that same aspect to her solo album. The music still retains a pretty good blend of riff-driven sections and melodic rock sections and the vocals and lyricism may be better than ever. Lacey's voice is raw and emotional and the lyrics match. In a world where rock music offers messages of death and suicide with little to no hope, Lacey decides to shed some light on that darkness. Life Screams is chock-full of messages that, while at times come from a dark place, offer hope to a lost and dying world. Any fan of Flyleaf, or just good hard rock music in general, will definitely want to pick this album up. The biggest detractor is the slight musical lull that occurs just after the midway point. It's only February, but Lacey Sturm has set the bar very high for what the rock album of the year should sound like.

- Review date: 2/11/16, written by Michael Weaver of

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JFH Staff's Second Opinion

Lacey Sturm is perhaps best known for singing for Flyleaf for many years. After taking a break, she is back with her first solo project, Life Screams. The album harkens back to Sturm's early Flyleaf roots, with catchy guitar riffs, honest lyrics, soaring vocals and impressive screams. The songs cover a variety of topics, from not being afraid to fight for what she believes in ("The Soldier") to being amazed to what God can do ("Impossible"), to realizing that everything on earth will fade away at some point, so it is important to focus on God ("Rot"). The lyrics are honest and unashamed, and will haunt listeners in the best way possible with selections like "A song unfolds in the distance, somehow you feel it in your soul, but you carry on with your business like you didn't hear this melody" ("Life Screams"). Though it seems to be an odd selection for the album, Sturm's live cover of The Police's song "Roxanne" is well done, combining a mounting melody with emotional vocals and screams. The album closes with the soft, guitar-driven ballad "Run to You," leaving us with a promise to never be far away. Sturm's new album is a journey from hard rock anthems to gentle reminders of God's love and everything in between. Fans of Flyleaf should definitely check it out. - Review date: 1/31/16, Sarah Berdon


JFH Staff's Additional 2 Cents

    The rock princess Lacey Sturm has returned with yet another compelling soundtrack for the broken and hurting. Life Screams is filled with catchy rock anthems and touching ballads, but where she truly impresses is in the middle of the record with the three-punch-combo of the angsty "I'm Not Laughing," the eye-opening monologue "Vanity" and the album highlight "Rot." Lacey's candid lyrical approach--which covers such weighty topics as losing a loved one, sex trafficking, and prostitution--combined with throat piercing screams and dramatic modern rock stylings--make for one emotionally gripping ride. - 2/11/16, Christopher Smith of

    A voice for the broken (particularly younger girls, but not exclusively) since the release of Flyleaf's major label debut in 2004, Lacey Sturm has made her way back into the rock music scene with her new band and new album, Life Screams. Those wondering what route the singer has taken since leaving Flyleaf will be pleased to know that Sturm's rock days are not over. Life Screams even ventures into hard rock territory here and there, with savage guitars and impressive screamed vocals in tracks like "Impossible" and "I'm Not Laughing." Lacey and her band also turn up the volume for bits and pieces of a surprising (and impressive) cover of Sting & the Police's "Roxanne" (and speaking of surprising, Humble Beast artist Propaganda shows up in an interlude track called "Vanity"). The band's softer side is very appealing as well, with my personal favorite coming at the very end in the heartwreching song "Run To You." Life Screams is an impressive debut from some veterans in the industry, and should appeal to a large number of Christian rock fans. - 2/13/16, Scott Fryberger of

    Lacey Sturm has been anything but quiet since leaving Flyleaf. From touring to releasing a personal memoir, it was only a matter of time before fans would hear the rock princess scream behind the mic once again. That time has finally arrived in the form of Life Screams. Rather than follow in the steps of her former band, Lacey retains the hard rock edge Flyleaf was best known for, and executes it almost flawlessly. While that intensity softens during the second half, the quality does not. Lacey's vocals have never sounded more emotional than in the epic "Feels Like Forever," but "Life Screams," the surprising but brilliant cover of the Police's "Roxanne," and the beautifully gentle "Run to You," are equally as strong. Life Screams is everything fans of old Flyleaf could want, and a little more. - 2/14/16, Lucas Munachen of

    Before Life Screams came out, I had somehow deluded myself into thinking that Lacey Sturm's next project would be a pop/rock record, along the lines of what Plumb or Rebecca St. James used to make (perhaps her two CCM-esque features on 2014's Billy Graham tribute contributed to that assumption). I was honestly truly excited about that possibility, but it wasn't until I finished listening to Life Screams that I truly realized how much Christian Music needs Lacey's voice as a hard-rocking musician. This medium allows Strum to be as raw as she needs to be and best communicate her message of faith and hope in a world of fear and lies. Life Screams is a record of long-sought and hard-won beauty, including moments of genuine creativity, like the punk-rock influenced "I'm Not Laughing," or the truly compelling drama of the twin tracks "Vanity" and "Rot" (where Propaganda's dialogue with Lacey is truly masterful). Life Screams is a great album of Christian Rock that deserves all the accolades that will likely come its way. - 2/14/16, Mark Rice of



. Record Label: Followspot Records
. Album length: 11 tracks: 38 minutes, 15 seconds
. Street Date: February 12, 2016
. Buy It: iTunes
. Buy It: AmazonMP3

  1. Impossible (3:39)
  2. The Soldier (2:54)
  3. I'm Not Laughing (3:17)
  4. Vanity (feat. Propaganda) (1:48)
  5. Rot (3:24)
  6. You're Not Alone (3:35)
  7. Feels Like Forever (3:14)
  8. Life Screams (3:30)
  9. Faith (3:50)
  10. Roxanne (live) (5:22)
  11. Run To You (3:37)


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