Four years after parting ways with her band, former Flyleaf vocalist Lacey Sturm roars back with her solid solo debut, Life Screams. Her signature howl still electrifies, as evidenced by first single "Impossible," which kicks off the album with as much fury and power as the best tracks on Flyleaf's debut album. In 2012, when she decided to leave the spotlight and focus on family, Flyleaf were three albums in, yet the visceral excitement had begun to fade by the time New Horizons was released. Sturm re-centered and refocused, moving on from her past and opting to find the positive in the quiet moments of life. Although she released a handful of songs in the interim, her complete passion and fervor have been channeled into Life Screams, a deeply personal and inspirational statement. At her lowest point, Sturm was battling depression and thoughts of suicide, a product of a difficult childhood wracked with hardship. She channeled that darkness into Flyleaf, creating a relationship with legions of fans who could connect to that pain and her brand of cathartic release. On Life Screams, Sturm has pulled back the black curtain to reveal hope and inspiration, a counterbalance to the negativity in the heavy rock genre. At the heart of the album, her deep spirituality and her devotion to her family inspire much of the newfound strength and calls for empowerment ("Faith" and "Run to You"). She's also reclaiming her life and her power, as on the hard-charging "The Soldier" and the rollicking "I'm Not Laughing." On album centerpiece "You're Not Alone" -- about the traumatic passing of her late cousin -- guitars slash, drums smash, and her powerful voice punches through the haze. Whereas this might have been it for a Flyleaf track, Sturm twists a bittersweet song about the death of a loved one into a hopeful promise to her children. As she sings on the uplifting title track, "Life sings out, calling you by name...Life screams out that all of this will change," transforming despair into perseverance and strength. There are plenty of heavy moments that Flyleaf fans will enjoy ("Feels Like Forever" and "Rot"), but by the end of this journey, instead of being left with feelings of anger, hurt, and despair, there's a newfound hope that everything will be all right.
AllMusic Review by Neil Z. Yeung