I’ve been a fan of Lindsey Stirling’s music for nigh on five years. For kicks, I decided to try to rate her albums on my own personal scale. Over the next five days, I will tackle them one at a time and then end with a “final thoughts” post. My primary focus will be on the deluxe editions (usually sold in Target Stores in the United States or on iTunes) though I will do my best to note which tracks are bonus and which were part of the standard album only. Also, in a case where I feel the bonus tracks elevate the album’s value, I will adjust the score higher.
These reviews will include four major releases: Lindsey Stirling, Shatter Me, Live from London, and Brave Enough.
The format will be Track Number, Track Name, and Song Rating. The Album Rating will follow at the end of each album’s song list.
Without further delay, let’s get into album number 1:
Many of us had to “settle” for listening to this album for more than a year until she signed a major deal, after which it was reissued as a 17 track deluxe edition for Target. Careful ears will notice that certain tracks were reworked for the reissue, particularly Stars Align, in which effects and vocals have been adjusted in volume. In my opinion, the edits don't change any of the tracks in ways that anyone but a non-diehard would notice.
1 Electric Daisy Violin (9)
How do you not like Electric Daisy Violin? Rhythmic melodies, a sweet bass line, and some vocal “harmonies” (for lack of a better term) make for one heck of an ear-worm. This was Lindsey’s de facto “theme song” for a long time.
2 Zi-Zi’s Journey (9)
Thumping beats, numerous mood changes, and multiple genres of violin work went into a track that Lindsey used to refer to as her “life story.” Lindsey, Zi-Zi…. Get it? It doesn’t have a mainstream hook like Crystallize, Elements, or Roundtable Rival, but this track definitely sits alongside them in power level.
3 Crystallize (8)
Most people would say that Crystallize is what got them to notice Lindsey Stirling. Just look at the view count on Youtube (161 million and going). It’s a great dubstep-violin song with some crazy wrist-killing sequences. I’d rate it higher, but I felt the concept was done better with “Elements.”
4 Song of the Caged Bird (6)
Some Stirlingites love Song of the Caged Bird. I don’t. It’s simple, it’s soulful, and it shows us that Lindsey’s talent with the violin can be classically pure when it needs to be. But this song is too plain and just too depressing compared to the majority of her other work. It may be heartfelt, but I tap “skip” half the time.
5 Moon Trance (9)
If Lindsey Stirling were to make Thriller, this is what you’d get. It’s a fun, spooky song that makes you want to dance, and shake, and do the zombie Crip walk. Check out the video on YouTube, or better yet, see it live (complete with a Piers Morgan tombstone).
6 Minimal Beat (8)
Like “Song of the Caged Bird,” this track keeps it simple. Unlike Caged Bird, you won’t feel sad when you listen to Minimal Beat. There’s an underlying beat and some simple dubstep effects, but the main body of the work is just Lindsey killing it with the violin. This is a song that draws out wonder and determination.
7 Transcendence (7)
I hate myself for rating Transcendence anything less than spectacular, but the track hasn’t aged well and the arrangement on the album doesn’t draw out anywhere near the level of emotion or power that the live performance does. It used to be one of Lindsey’s signature songs, but I think she and we, her listeners, have outgrown it.
8 Elements (10)
Somehow, this masterpiece manages to have three tonal shifts and still come across as a cohesive piece. It’s a high-tempo dubstep-violin work of art with production values that are off the charts. It’s the single track I play when someone asks me “What does Lindsey Stirling do?” You know, assuming I don’t smack them around first.
9 Shadows (9)
I have a soft spot for this song, as the video was the one that cemented me as a Lindsey Stirling fan (aka Stirlingite). I had seen a couple of her videos before this, notably the collaboration she did with Jake Bruene on “Party Rock Anthem,” but Shadows is the one that finished my conversion. It’s dancy, it’s upbeat, and while it sounds plain compared to her recent works, there’s still a sense of hopeful joy to it that resists obsolescence.
10 Spontaneous Me (6)
I have a love-hate relationship with this track. I adore some of the violin melodies, especially when they kick in after a chill interlude, but this track also suffers from being too casual at times. The video for this track is amazing. The track itself is one of those if-in-the-mood type deals.
11 Anti Gravity (8)
Now here’s a track that’s difficult to describe. There interplay of slow to fast, bouncy to thrashy, and a whole other myriad of theses makes this a song that demands your ear. It’s only weakness is it lacks a hook to make it stand out next to the album’s upper crust.
12 Stars Align (8)
You could call this“Minimal Beat, Part 2.” Stars align is one of Lindsey’s more stripped-down tracks. I’d ding it for having such a repetitive hook, but darned if it isn’t catchy. This is a fun song to sing along to, especially at concerts (“Da, dun da da da da, dun da da da, when the stars align…”)
13 Crystallize-Orchestral (7)
The first of the reissue bonus tracks. This is a solid orchestral arrangement of Lindsey’s most popular hit, but it also loses points for featuring so little of the jittery violin that made the track spectacular in the first place.
14 Transcendence-Orchestral (8)
For this bonus track, Lindsey adds polish to one of her trademark songs and subsequently brings new life to it. Due to the initial samples that suggest clockwork, I get the impression there may have been plans to put this on her second album, Shatter Me. It’s good stuff.
15 Elements-Orchestral (8)
Another good bonus track, but let’s be honest: the original version of Elements was perfect. If you want to hear the same song, just less dub-steppy, then here’s your chance.
16 Crystallize-Mashup (7)
For this track, Wild Children took a bunch of the songs on the album and threw them into a blender with a big heap of Crystallize. The result is enjoyable on its own, but it really doesn’t fit the album (or any Lindsey album).
17 My Immortal (7)
Lindsay says she always wanted to record Evanescence’s “My Immortal,” and based on that notion she certainly proved she can turn her love for the song into an instrumental accomplishment. It’s just, um, how do you hear the music and not want to hear Amy Lee’s voice with it?
Standard Version or Reissue: 8.1 out of 10