After a decade as lead singer for Christian alternative band Flyleaf, Lacey Sturm (nee Mosley), is parting ways from the group to pursue the next chapter of her life — but not before leaving fans with one last album to remember her by.
“New Horizons” is reminiscent of the band’s previous albums, “Flyleaf” (2005) and “Memento Mori” (2009), as far as vocals and basic musical style are concerned, but differ in levels of intensity.
The first two albums are powerful, with harsh lyrics describing school shootings (“Cassie,” from the “Flyleaf” album) or intense and inspiring ones about pushing through hardships and turning away from suicide (“Arise,” from “Memento Mori”). By comparison, “New Horizons” is gentler. Some may even describe it as tame.
Flyleaf’s latest single, the title track, is an example of this. It speaks of striking out and doing new things while you still can, and that change isn’t always a bad thing. The message is a direct comment on Sturm’s departure from the band.
The music is borderline cheery and very uplifting. The guitars and drums are heavy, but not hard, and you can hear a bit of excitement in Sturm’s vocals that hint at her joy toward starting the next part of her life, presumably with her young son and husband.
“Fire Fire,” the first track on the album, is more similar to the band’s previous releases, with a strong, accusing tone and lyrics that cut through life’s bull crap. It then suddenly changes into a soothing tone, instead of ranting.
The music and Sturm’s vocals plead the listener to understand the point the band is trying to make. Despite what everyone is trying to convince you, you have nothing to prove or be ashamed of. No matter who you are or what background you’re from, no matter how bad, you’ve got nothing to prove.
Despite the rough feel of most of the track, it is also strangely elevating, a quality Flyleaf is known for among fans.
Another track, “Cage on the Ground,” is a soul-searcher. Sturm and the gang present listeners with the concept that when more and more fans discover a band, it becomes trapped by everyone’s perceptions of them and their craft.
Lyrics such as “Welcome to the machine/It’s a currency generator/And then it’s a guillotine” shed a negative light on the effects of fame on creativity and personal freedom. But, as with most all of the band’s songs, there is a silver lining, and this one once more points to Sturm’s departure: “I’m gonna take my bow/And disappear into the sound/I’m leaving my cage on the ground.”
Fans will notice a reduction in obvious biblical and religious references in this album, and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Many references are still there, but this album isn’t necessarily all about faith in a higher power. It’s about faith in the self, and that’s something that makes it more accessible to a wider audience.
There’s no telling how new lead singer Kristen May (formerly of the band Vedera) can ever hope to live up to Sturm’s impact as the face and voice of Flyleaf, but at least this last album, tame as it is, holds its own.
Album: “New Horizons”
Release Date: Oct. 30, 2012
Label: A&M/Octone Records