As a dancer, composer and YouTube star who fuses electronic music with classical violin, Lindsey Stirling is certainly a rare talent. With her third studio album, “Brave Enough” Stirling has shown that she is still an artist worthy of her spotlight.
Stirling’s last album, “Shatter Me,” was composed of mostly instrumental songs with guest vocalists only appearing twice. “Brave Enough,” however, is an entirely different story with eight of its 14 tracks featuring vocals from various artists. While having guest vocalists on over half of the songs does feel like it holds back some of Stirling’s ability to shine, it’s still an impressive and exciting album because of the ways in which the music compliments each singer’s style.
The album alternates between instrumentals and songs with vocals, and the latter is where the album stays continuously strong. The opener, “Lost Girls,” is a classic Stirling song with hard-hitting bass beats behind elegant-sounding violin with several shifts in tempo and tone. “The Arena” and “The Phoenix” keep up this trend and offer some of the most aggressive electronic sounds that she has put in her music to date.
Halfway through the album is where Stirling starts to inject a new style into her instrumental work with the song “Prism.” Where much of Stirling’s other instrumental work takes a more rock or dubstep route, “Prism” is funkier, and takes cues from hip-hop and EDM. This is an example of how, even after years of creating music, Stirling has managed to find new, interesting paths to explore in this style of music that she has brought up to the mainstream, if not created herself.
“First Light” is another sound shift, as it has '80s-style electronic beats and a mellower violin sound that slowly builds into a powerful climax. The album ends with what might be one of Stirling’s best songs yet, “Gavi’s Song.” This track takes a more classical route with piano, violin and subtle background vocals that all combine for a powerful sound. While it might not be as unique as her other works, it stands as a refreshing contrast and ends the album on a beautiful and emotional note.
For “Brave Enough,” Stirling secured several popular vocalists for guest spots including Christina Perri, Rivers Cuomo from Weezer and Lecrae among others. These guest spots pull Stirling’s music towards several different genres including pop, country and rap, and the best part of each song is the twist that Stirling puts on them.
For example, while Christina Perri and Carah Faye give quality performances in “Brave Enough” and “Where Do We Go” respectively, both songs would come across as somewhat bland pop songs if it weren’t for Stirling’s beautiful violin playing alongside it. The same applies to the country-inspired “Those Days,” where the violin plays in harmony with each verse and takes over completely in some sections, making it feel like Stirling’s song despite the genre shift and the guest vocals.
Unfortunately, by the time “Love’s Just a Feeling” came around near the end of the album, I couldn’t help but feel a little tired of hearing Stirling accompany other artists, and I was wishing that there had been more songs without guests. The feeling persisted during “Something Wild,” a song that I enjoyed more on its own before the album came out than I did in the context of the other songs before it.
“Brave Enough” is a diverse album that shows off Stirling’s one-of-a-kind style and tries to inject it into other popular music genres and, for the most part, succeeds. While its hard lean towards vocals might make it slightly less interesting than her previous works, “Brave Enough” is still a great album that all fans of music, regardless of the genre, should listen to.