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Flyleaf, ‘New Horizons’ – Album Review

A&M/Octone

‘New Horizons’ is the third studio album from Flyleaf, and the final one for vocalist Lacey Sturm. Just a few days before the album’s release, it was announced Sturm would be leaving the band and would be replaced by Kristen May.

Sturm explained her departure. “I am very thankful to have recently become a mom to one of the greatest blessings of my life, my son Jack. You may have also heard that we recently lost our brilliant sound engineer, Rich Caldwell, in a devastating car accident. Now, more than ever, I understand the phrase Memento Mori. I understand that, for me, living life to the fullest in this season means to step down as the lead singer for Flyleaf.’

Sturm is exiting on a high note with ‘New Horizons.’ It’s packed with melodic and catchy rock and hard rock. It’s also a focused effort, just 11 songs clocking in at 36 minutes. That’s considerably shorter than 2009‘s ‘Memento Mori,’ which had an expanded edition that was an hour long.

The brevity on ‘New Horizons’ works to Flyleaf’s advantage. The filler is minimal, and it’s always good to leave them wanting more. There’s a variety of styles on the album as well, giving it plenty of diversity. The title track is straight ahead pop/rock, very accessible and instantly memorable.

As with Flyleaf’s previous albums, Howard Benson produced ‘New Horizons.’ He has worked with bands such as HalestormSkillet and Three Days Grace, and knows how to blend pop hooks with guitar based rock. Tracks like ‘Call You Out’ have a bit of a Halestorm vibe, with Sturm singing more aggressively.

The harder-edged tracks are where guitarists Sameer Bhattacharya and Jared Hartmann excel.
Flyleaf approach metal territory with ‘Green Heart,’ which is probably the most aggressive track they have done. The guitar duo is able to shift smoothly from gritty riffs on that song to more shimmering tones on mellower songs such as ‘Cage on the Ground.’

Sturm’s strongest performance is on ‘Freedom.’ She transitions from earnest to aggressive and back again, showing both vulnerability and attitude. Her voice has a unique and distinctive sound, which will be hard to replace.

‘New Horizons’ (available at iTunes) is a bittersweet album for Flyleaf fans. Sturm’s exit is a bitter pill to swallow, but the band has delivered some of the strongest songs of their career. It’s a great legacy for Sturm, and provides ample hope for for the future of the group.

4 Stars

 

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