Album reviews: Flyleaf, Ari Hest, and Danielia Cotton

Album reviews: Flyleaf, Ari Hest, and Danielia Cotton

Love and longevity


New Horizons/A&M Records

Flyleaf’s Lacey Sturm is well-established as one of alternative rock’s more recognizable voices. Since she recently informed fans that she is leaving the band to be a full-time mother, it is fitting that this last album with Sturm is entitled New Horizons. The video that accompanies the title track acts as a thank-you to fans, and is filled with the sort of hopeful message that has typified Flyleaf’s content from the beginning. New Horizons continues the band’s trend of marrying the melodic with the abrasive. Second single “Call You Out” is a crunching, stomping attack against liars, while “Freedom” is an epic number where Sturm alternates between singing sweetly and almost screaming the chorus in a haunting, spine-tingling way about fighting to break free from the chains that bind us. Never shy about their faith in God, “Saving Grace” reminds listeners of this once again. New Horizons never quite lifts off the way the first two albums do, but it has enough moments to get you charged up.

Ari Hest

The Fire Plays/Project 4 Records

Acoustic folk rocker Ari Hest is nothing if not prolific. The Fire Plays is his 13th release in 13 years, and one of those releases involved him creating and releasing one new song a week for an entire year. Hest seems to have an unending well of creativity from which to draw upon, and that is what gives The Fire Plays all the vibrance and depth of an artist’s debut recording despite coming from such a music veteran. The upbeat, piano pop number “The Winter of Yes” tells the tale of someone who is going to keep his mind open to all of life’s possibilities, and the moody, ambient folk track “Untitled, Part 2” focuses on one man’s fight for integrity no matter how hard that may be. The mid-tempo piano-led title track features a clever twist on the old adage about playing with fire by stating, “I play with fire/And the fire plays with me.” Hest draws you in with his smoky vocals, thoughtful lyrics, and razor-sharp wisdom, and The Fire Plays is chock-full of great performances.

Danielia Cotton

The Gun in Your Hand/Redeye Records

Danielia Cotton is back with her latest album, The Gun in Your Hand. “Save Me” starts things off with some blistering rock ‘n’ roll, as Cotton shreds her guitar as much as she does her throat with her raspy, gravelly vocals. Similarly, “Watch Me Bleed” is a funky rocker that will have your hips shaking and your hands clapping in no time flat. Many of the album’s remaining tracks, however, have a decidedly slower pace to them as Cotton weaves tales about love, loss, and overcoming various hardships. “Torrent Bay” is a mid-tempo number about struggling to discern whether a lover is a good guy or not, and growing from an experience when you turn out to be wrong about it. “The Only Reason” is an almost plaintive slow-dance number, another about the difference a lover has made in Cotton’s life. The Gun in Your Hand is far mellower than her previous release, Rare Child, but it holds a candle.

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