“The best art isn’t created, it escapes.”
That maxim rings loud and clear on Lacey Sturm’s first, post-Flyleaf solo effort, Life Screams. Since leaving her former band back in 2012 to better balance marriage and motherhood, Sturm has dabbled in music — a festival here, a couple of one-off dates there — but not much in the way of new music or serious touring. Until now.
Life Screams’ title proves more than apt. She could’ve jumped straight back into the fray after leaving Flyleaf; instead, she waited until she had the right stories to tell, taking a four-year absence from creating music full-time. With the final result, it’s clear these are songs Sturm couldn’t help but write.
Sturm is perhaps best known for her poignant, often visceral lyrics, and the songs she penned for Life Screams are no exception. “The most disgusting lies are wrapped in beauty that will rot.” “I’ll let you go if that’s what you want, but I hope you know, my love won’t stop.” Each track feels like it was ripped directly from her journals and then delivered with the larynx-shredding passion she drives into every note.
Words this powerful don’t work without the music to back them up, and, thankfully, the musical spine of Life Screams provides the perfect foundation. Sturm’s husband Joshua does stellar guitar work for the album, soaring and slinking through its twists and turns, deftly skirting genre lines. Drummer Tom Gascon brings character and power, and bassist Ben Hull weaves melody with movement; it’s a powerfully present rhythm section, especially in a class of rock typically ruled solely by guitar.
All of the powerful undercurrents of modern rock music are present at different points throughout the 11-song album. “I’m Not Laughing” recalls the glittering sludge of glam-rock influenced jams such as U2’s “Love and Peace, Or Else,” Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People,” or Showbread’s “Lost Connection with the Head.” The towering rock of Blindside and the dirt and rust of Maylene and the Sons of Disaster are blisteringly present on “The Soldier,” and the thunderous, heavy march of Norma Jean’s Redeemer and Wrongdoers can be felt in the staccato riffs and cavernous drum breaks of “Rot.”
Fans of Flyeaf (in particular) and hard rock (in general) will find themselves well-satisfied with Life Screams. But while Sturm and company may nod to their influences, they weave the separate threads into a cohesive tapestry into something both familiar and novel. Painted with fine strokes of detail and color selection, a work of art as vibrant as Life Screams is meant to be shared — and it screams to be heard. “Life sings out. It’s calling you by name.”