Sound — 7
Dedicated alternative rock followers have recently been subject to a scathing split in regards to the exiting of longtime lead vocalist Ed Kowalczyk from Live. For unacquainted readers, perhaps the most comparable band would be Geoff Tate's firing from Queensryche; tensions begin to become apparent when Kowalczyk releases a new solo album, 2010's "Alive," and the remainder of the then-current Live lineup form their own side project, The Gracious Few, who release their self-titled album later that same year. These same band members begin collaborating with United Theory frontman Chris Shinn, who makes his first appearance with Live in 2012, and ultimately becomes appointed as the group's new lead vocalist. Fast forward two years later, and the veteran rock band have returned with their first studio album since 2006's "Songs From Black Mountain," which perhaps not coincidentally shares a noticeable approach with what longtime listeners found on Live's earlier efforts.
One of the propelling qualities found on Live's newly released offering "The Turn" is that Shinn doesn't attempt to become a carbon copy of his predecessor; the two vocalists share an apparently similar range, while maintaining an entirely different character altogether. Some may argue that Kowalczyk is more of a "powerhouse" singer in terms of his lyrical execution, however it's the reinvigorated musical chemistry within the band which stands as the highlight of this album, and not necessarily just who's standing at the helm. Quick glances at "Siren's Call" and "Don't Run to Wait" gallivant this point through slamming chord progressions, propelling percussion and particular emphasis on vocal melodies, ultimately producing an end product which should be hastily welcomed amongst advocates of "Mental Jewelry" and "Throwing Copper."
A general lighthearted attitude is also apparent here, in that the album invokes a throwback to the aforementioned "classic" releases without devolving into a desperate rehashing. It shouldn't come as coincidental that the addition of Shinn into the Live lineup resulted in such a concrete stylistic transition, considering that aside from the main microphone, and the fact that he shares songwriting credit on each of the album's eleven tracks, the singer also serves overtime as a guitarist; his pairings against fellow guitar player Chad Taylor throughout "The Way Around Is Through" and "We Open the Door" attribute an additional degree of depth in what is a predominantly distortion-oriented compilation.
Lyrics — 7
For almost any vocalist, the sheer notion of attempting to replace the original singer in a band can be enough to deter most, however it's applaudable that Chris Shinn maintains his identity as a singer as opposed to attempting to embody the persona of Kowalczyk throughout his debut effort as a member of Live. Any casual fan could point out that the two both have developed a similar vocal range, however it's the fact that Shinn is comfortable enough to retain his own distinctive approach which makes the performance found on "The Turn" even more authentic.
Overall Impression — 7
Especially when compared to the indie rock attitude of the preceding "Songs From Black Mountain," the members of Live deliver a commendable return to their earlier approach throughout their new studio album, "The Turn." Newly appointed lead singer Chris Shinn proves to be a vital addition to the band in terms of reinvigorating the collective's alternative rock sound from their earlier years, while occasionally borrowing the overtly melodic refrains from their previous effort.