After four months of frequent listening, I feel that Brave Enough may have what it takes to endure as Lindsey’s best work to-date. Tracks like “Lost Girls” and “Prism” satisfy the familiar Lindsey+dubstep formula, while full-on lyrical songs like “Brave Enough,” “Where Do We Go,” and “Don’t Let This Feeling Fade” prove that Lindsey as backup is still better than most backup around. Even the softball tracks avoid the dreaded skip button.
This is also the first album where I feel like Target Stores received one hell of an exclusive, because not only do the bonus tracks complete a perfect harmony of music and lyrics, they also offer the chance to listen to “Waltz.” How that track didn’t end up as the opener on the main album I will never know.
1 Lost Girls (10)
A great, dancy “classic style” Lindsey track. No lyrics, just awesome spirit lifting music that comes straight from the sweet spot of Lindsey’s wheelhouse.
2 Brave Enough (9)
I’m usually not a fan of Lindsey’s vocal collaborations, but the story the song tells and the contrast of alternating subdued and crashing violin just keeps me enthralled every time. Christina Perri’s vocal work is kind of weak though, and I wish Lindsey had just taken on the singing duties herself. Also, if this song isn’t about Devin Graham, you could knock me over with a feather.
3 The Arena (7)
Is it possible for a song to be too “old style” Lindsey? At different points, The Arena is wistful, frantic, and cathartic, but it also feels like a B-side that wasn’t quite good enough to be included on Shatter Me. Probably forgiving in my score, but I didn’t want to harsh it solely in comparison to prior work.
4 The Phoenix (8)
This one also feels like a Shatter Me cast off, but I dig it thanks to the chill vibe and smooth violin throughout.
5 Where Do We Go (10)
Grand slam out-of-the-park home run here. Lindsey and Carah Faye have concocted a compelling, emotional track that’s steeped in religious overtones, but in such a way that even is heathens can latch onto. Carah Faye channels Celtic Woman at times, but the Irish tilt works just dandy. I’d have given this song an 11 if it’d been the live rendition we heard in Erie, Pennsylvania. Carah Faye can sing so deliciously raw when she exceeds her vocal range. Better than “Shatter Me.”
6 Those Days (6)
As collaborations go, Lindsey’s violin and Dan+Shay’s vocals form a serviceable track, but it’s one I’m starting to skip with repeat play.
7 Prism (8)
I can’t put my finger on it, but the mix of throbbing beats, mild dubstep, and interspersed voice samples makes me really dig this track.
8 Hold My Heart (9)
Ignoring the mixed message this song sends after having listened to “Shatter Me” for months, I have to admit I find myself singing along more often than not. ZZ Ward’s vocals provide a jazz club vibe that is new to Lindsey’s body of work. I’d like to see her sing “Brave Enough” instead of Christina Perri.
9 Mirage (8)
When I first heard this song, I thought it was written by A.R. Rahman of “Jai Ho” fame. It’s generally just Lindsey rocking the violin with Bollywood samples, but there are also Hindi and gibberish voice samples intermixed. It’s a new flavor for Lindsey and I dig it.
10 Don’t Let This Feeling Fade (10)
Holy shit, this is my wheelhouse right here. Lecrae rapping, Rivers Cuomo providing gripping vocals that shift from tenor to near-falsetto, and Lindsey just providing a current that brings it all together. Every artist at some point does a song to suggest that the journey is better than the destination. This one makes you feel like journeys are the best thing ever. I’d buy a whole album like this.
11 First Light (6)
I find it difficult to describe what I like and dislike about this track. It has some good moments, namely the emotional tide changes and the “hey!...hey!” lyrical interludes, but Lindsey’s violin work is painfully threadbare. Not as muted as “Minimal Beat,” I’ll give it that, but I’m still hitting the skip button more often than not.
12 Love’s Just a Feeling (7)
I don’t know who Rooty is, but she can definitely sing an R&B song. Lindsey also provides serviceable, upbeat violin work. It’s a good track, but I’m not into love songs and I don’t feel like this one has the extra oomph to sit up there with “Hold My Heart.”
13 Something Wild (9)
As radio friendly unit shifters go, I can’t stop listening to this son of a bitch. Is it the upbeat violin or the positive message that tells you it’s OK to face your fears and unleash your inner beast? Is it how Andrew McMahon In the Wilderness (what a lengthy name) sometimes sings like a Scottish mariner? I don’t know. This song is on the soundtrack for Pete’s Dragon and I don’t give a shit what that suggests—it’s good stuff.
14 Gavi’s Song (7)
As a closure to the standard version of the album, Gavi’s Song is a somber reflection on a man that Lindsey and many of us longtime Stirlingites cherished. It doesn’t fit the mood of the album, but it does show off Lindsey’s classical violin chops. I hit the skip button when I’m in a good mood, but when I’m feeling like I need some emotion, this baby conjures that walking through a rainy field mood like no other. Seeing that Jason Gaviati writing credit in the liner notes hurts my heart.
15 Waltz (10)
The first of the Target Stores exclusive tracks. How this didn’t end up on the general release album is a mystery to me. It starts slow, builds, and then takes the listener on an empowering trip that feels like the musical equivalent of “fuck yes! This is it right here!” Waltz feels like it should have been the opening song to the entire album. Buy the Target version or illegally download a rip of this track just so you can hear how amazing it is.
16 Afterglow (8)
Takes a minute to get going, but then starts rubbing the right way. If ever there was a “Minimal Beat, Part 3,” this would be it.
17 Powerlines (9)
The only problem with this track is it takes too long to get going. Once it does though, it quickly turns into a thumping house-techno violin masterpiece. How have tracks like this been relegated to a store specific bonus?! If given a choice, I’d have kicked “Those Days” off the album and put this in its place.
18 Forgotten Voyage (8)
Ethereal female vocal snippets are the hallmark of this otherworldly testament to perseverance. As a longtime fan, this feels like a continuation of Transcendence to me. I see why it’s a bonus track, since it doesn’t quite fit the spirit of this album, but it’s still lovable enough to warrant repeat listens.
Standard Version: 8.2 out of 10
Target Stores Version: 8.4