Written by Darcy Rumble of Uxbridge, Ontario

If you’re a fan of Paramore or Icon for Hire, you’ll love Lacey Sturm. Flyleaf, her former band, was one of the leading groups in the rise of female-fronted rock. Alongside the ongoing success of bands like Fireflight and newcomers Veridia, Lacey Sturm continues to carry that torch, but now as a solo artist.

Life Screams is her first solo album since her departure from Flyleaf. Though this album was released in early 2016, it is still charting both on Christian and mainstream music charts. At the time of its release, she became the first female solo act to ever reach the top of the Billboard Hard Rock charts.

Life Screams proves once again her incredible vocal talent. Though she shies away from more of the screaming style she used in Flyleaf, her gorgeous, soaring vocals are backed by a rock sound with pop qualities. Any of these tracks could dominate the radio waves. They’re heavy and catchy, calling listeners to sing along.

As with her previous work, you’ll get some solid bass lines, crunchy riffing and guitar solos, but it isn’t just front-to-back rock jams. “Run To You” slows things down a bit with acoustic guitar picking. “Life Screams” intros with piano and a simple beat, and the clean guitar tones and hook of “Faith” would make it a solid pop song. There’s also a live cover of The Police song, “Roxanne.” This is one of my all-time favourite covers. She gives it a modern spin, and takes it up a level both musically and through a passionate vocal delivery. It’s pretty serious subject matter, but it’s fitting within the context of the rest of her record.

With a fairly intense testimony of her own, Lacey’s heartfelt lyrics come through as deeply personal and genuine. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone these songs do not resonate with.

She addresses insecurity, faith, and freedom; finding love and comfort in God; and not giving into lies or seeking the acceptance of the world. The interlude “Vanity” is almost unsettling with a haunting kind of ambience and a spoken word conversation about love, and the twisted perceptions of it. Lacey doesn’t wallow in the darkness, but instead points again and again to the Lord and the love of God.

Lacey’s solo debut Life Screams is an empowering, first-in-the-air album, brimming with anthems of hope and encouragement. Life Screams is a memorable, uplifting heavy rock record, taking a stand and injecting light into dark places. Rating: 4/5