Album Review: Flyleaf

Tonight I’m reviewing Flyleaf’s self-titled album from 2005. It’s probably my second favorite Flyleaf album, behind Memento Mori.

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I would also like to dedicate this review to my best friend Ellie. The link to her blog is here: StyleistaEllie. My dear bestie and I have known each other for close to ten years. We agree on a lot of things. Except music. Which, now that I think about it, I only know two people that like the same genre of music as I do. Anyway, before Ellie left me for the South (I don’t have anything against the South. The folks down there are friendly unlike us Northerners. They also have Chick-Fil-A and many other good restaurants), we spent a day together doing fun things and no school. We almost made the whole day without a fight. Then, ten minutes before we dropped her off, we got into a small feud. It was a stupid one, quite fun actually, and it started with opinions about John Cooper. She and her brother thought his voice was too gruff and supposedly “screamo”. I snorted in displeasure, then, laughing madly, I grabbed the aux cord to my mother’s car and plugged in my iPod. My iPod has close to 800 songs on it, over two-thirds of that is rock. “If you think that Skillet is screamo, you know nothing about my music!” I shouted and dug through my artist list, revealing gems from screamo artists just to prove my point that John Cooper is not screamo. Mike Barnes (Red) is screamo. Kevin Young (Disciple) is screamo. Justin Cordle (We As Human) is screamo. Sarah Anthony (The Letter Black) is screamo, but not John Cooper compared to other bands. As I scrolled through my artists, I saw it and started grinning like a lunatic. “You don’t not know screamo until you know one of Skillet’s best friends.” I exclaimed as I started playing “I’m So Sick”. If you know the song, the aggressive bass line begins, then Lacey Sturm starts singing. I do not know the exact thoughts going through my friend’s head but from what I heard after, she said Lacey’s voice was good and the song didn’t sound bad. Then my favorite part: when Lacey screams “Break.” Ellie was panicking so hard she curled up in fear, her brother’s jaw dropped. Me? I laughed and laughed. Then, due to popular request as her brother who would not believe that was a lady screaming or that that was a human for that matter, I played it over and over. She left, but we still talk about it a lot. I tell the story to many people, I think of her when I listen to it, we send each other screenshots of the lyrics and album covers. I even recorded the intro and sent it to her. Luckily, we are still friends today. So, long story short, I would like to dedicate this review to my good friend, Ellie “the fashion guru.”

Before I start reviewing the album, I must note that the band’s current line up isn’t the same as ten years ago. Lacey Sturm left in 2013. The current line up is now Kristen May  on lead vocals, Sameer Bhattacharya on guitar, Jared Hartmann on guitar, Pat Seals on bass, and James Culpepper on drums. Lacey may have left Flyleaf, but her career in the music industry is far from dead! But that is a different subject that this post is not about.

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This album debuted in 2005 originally through Octane Records, produced by the legendary Howard Benson (Graves still rules). A deluxe edition was also released in 2007, containing five acoustic tracks and a DVD with music videos and multiple in-studio acoustic performances. This album went Platinum and according to Billboard, was the 9th best selling Christian album in 2000’s.

Track One “I’m So Sick”: “I’m So Sick” is about our sick and twisted world and how empty and fake it is. If we let ourselves just try to please the world, we aren’t living how God wants us to. We become empty and voiceless dead souls who are sick of ourselves. We become part of the Machine (R3D reference BTW), so we need to show the world and fulfill our purposes.The aggressive distorted guitars and bass along with the mind blowing (and to some people, panic inducing) screaming is amazing to metalheads like myself. Ellie asked me to put that after you listen to this track, you will have mental problems for thirty seconds. Now if you’re a true rocker (or Panhead, REDhead, Humaniod, part of the TFK Army, etc.), it won’t bother you at all.

Track Two “Fully Alive”: “Fully Alive” is about a girl who is growing up in an abusive household and finds her hope in Jesus. The song is actually based on Layla Palmer’s, wife of the singer for Trust Company, own story.

Track Three “Perfect”: This track is about having strength in God. He doesn’t care about our weaknesses, our faults, or our wrongs, we are perfect to Him.

Track Four “Cassie”: One of the things I love about Flyleaf is how they take others stories and put them into song. “Cassie” is about the Columbine High School shooting of April 20, 1999, where martyrs Cassie Bernall and Rachel Scott died for their Christian faith. This song is a very deep song, the acoustic track slows it down and adds additional meaningful lyrics to it. Sadly, this track was not and is not very popular.

Track Five “Sorrow”: “Sorrow”‘s title gives the focus away. This song is about dealing with depression, how there is hope and how there is God. Yet another beautiful and meaningful song by Flyleaf. Lacey’s voice is stunning on this track especially.

Track Six “I’m Sorry”: The definition of this song is the most blurred thing ever. Everyone has their personal views and their made stories about Lacey’s relation to this song. I have read many different meanings about this song. I believe this song is about being abused by a loved one, but loving them and God enough to let God help both the person and the abuser. That is my personal opinion formed by many viewpoints.

Track Seven “All Around Me”: Flyleaf’s most popular single with the Christian radio stations like Air-1, Way-FM and Klove. Lacey said that this song is about meeting God. It is also about loving, knowing and sensing God. You know He’s always “all around [you]”.

Track Eight “Red Sam”: This track was inspired by Lacey’s acceptance of Christ. Lacey, formally an Atheist, was seriously struggling with her life. Her alcoholic father was never in her life, her young mother was poor and did what she thought best for her children (which Lacey is glad she did). Lacey’s grandfather was suffering with heart problems. Lacey also lived with her grandparents after a major fight with her mother at age sixteen. At age ten, she stopped believing in God after her three-year-old cousin was beaten to death. She turned to drugs out of depression. Lacey’s grandmother forced her to go to church one day, and that day Lacey realized God was the only thing she had ever needed. She gave her life to Christ that day and wrote this song to help many people. This track has actually helped me in ways with my faith and life, but I won’t go into that. But as I was researching this song, I found that song name came from Jared and Sameer’s names. That was a random new fact to enlighten people with.

Track Nine “There For You”: This song is about being there for anyone, despite your faults and sorrows.

Track Ten “Breathe Today”: Yet another song about being free of the world and not ignorantly follow every demand. You can stop suffocating on worldly lies and breathe today.

Track Eleven “So I Thought”: “So I Thought” is about freeing yourself from your mistakes and others hurtful mistakes. Mistakes can’t control you’re life if you don’t let them. Forgiveness can break any fault. If you screw up, the world is not over. You can get forgiveness and move on.

Flyleaf’s self-titled first album was and is still a huge hit. Sure, some people like the light singles played on Christian praise channels. Some people like the screamo songs. Some don’t like any of it at all. Like it or not, Flyleaf’s meanings to their songs are inspirational and have helped many fans. For that, Lacey’s insane voice, and the heavy drums, bass and guitars, I’d give this album a five out of five stars any day. Let’s hope that Lacey keeps her amazing musical skills going.

 

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