Lindsey Stirling first wowed the world when she became a quarter finalist on season five of America’s Got Talent in 2010. Although she did not win that competition, fans took notice of her musical abilities as a violinist, dancer, performance artist, and composer. After releasing a self-titled album in 2012 as well as multiple singles and an EP, the hip-hop violinist is back with the release of her sophomore album, Shatter Me.
Stirling has singlehandedly made classical music cool! During a time when the majority of the younger generations collectively grown with predisposed boredom at anything that is not considered to be mainstream, Stirling successfully incorporates classical music with hip-hop, pop, rock, dubstep, and Broadway, just to name a few musical categories, in order to create something that is uniquely all her own. As a result of her efforts, people all over the world are beginning to take notice of her talents!
Shatter Me is a symphonic dubstep album with some Celtic flavor, and at times a fusion between the genres of classical music and gothic metal. Furthermore, although this record is almost entirely instrumental, there are two tracks containing poignant lyrics which add another layer to Stirling’s brilliant composing.
The album starts off with “Beyond the Veil,” a mid-tempo easy listener. The soft background vocals that ebb and flow throughout this track, along with various forms of electronica and percussion, form a cohesive element that helps to illuminate Stirling’s violin performance.
As the album progresses, the electronic portions of “Mirror Haus” and “V-Pop,” unfortunately, don’t always work to properly feature or blend in appropriately with the violin. As a result, the backing vocals, keyboards, and percussion mainly overshadow Stirling’s playing. While these are not bad tracks by any means, at times, there is simply too much going on within them. Instead of the songs standing out, they quickly fade to background music for the listener and become one big repetitive, indistinguishable, conglomeration of sound.
“Shatter Me” however, is one of the best tracks on the album, featuring vocals by Lzzy Hale, lead singer of Halestorm. Stirling and Hale provide their audience with a musical collaboration that will make anyone listening to either artist for the first time stop dead in their tracks! In an interview, Stirling mentioned that she drew the inspiration for this song from, “…[being] obsessed with what I thought everyone else wanted me to be. I realized one day that I was so unhappy because I was a slave to my own control. And ‘Shatter Me’ is about breaking free, discovering yourself and learning to love yourself for the imperfections that you have” (azcentral.com). The poetic lyrics, strong hook, and honesty that is put forth from this song’s raw emotion make “Shatter Me” something to remember.
The fifth track, “Heist,” is something that could easily be placed in a movie soundtrack. The use of dubstep and the super slick synth pop snaking around throughout this piece interplays well with the violin.
“Roundtable Rival” is Lindsey Stirling at her best! This track is edgy and fresh. It combines all the elements of her music that fans crave – one part Irish dance, one part gothic metal, a splash of dubstep, and a whole lot of awesomeness. Stirling takes the audience for a ride and each dip, pause, crescendo, and staccato note is an experience. The use of pounding drums, electronic guitars, and various other electronic elements has been planned out to support the melody, yet it never overpowers it. All of this showcase Stirling’s ever-growing instrumental ability.
“We Are Giants,” the album’s tenth track, features Dia Frampton of Meg & Dia and The Voice. This is a feel good poppy number that speaks to the notion that anything is possible and chances should be taken.
“Swag” starts off with a lot of promise. This is a jazzy tune, which would have benefitted from a simpler approach. The soft background vocals, a steady back beat, and some accompaniment on keyboards would have nicely complimented Stirling’s violin. While a few people may bob their heads in appreciation of the song’s sexy groove, this track is an example that sometimes less really is more.
Overall, Shatter Me is a highly enjoyable album. Credit must be given to Stirling for not only forging her own path in the music industry, but also for trying to invent something new, edgy, and memorable. While Stirling will no doubt continue to experiment with her sound, she shouldn’t be afraid to take more chances both as a composer and as a lyricist. Her ability to integrate various genres of music, combined with her dazzling ability to resurrect performance art, truly makes Lindsey Stirling a force to be reckoned with. (Kara Kulpa)
Purchase Shatter Me here: http://www.lindseystirling.com/