2018 release from Atlantic.
4.5 out of 5 stars rating.
Reviewed by David.
- Not Dead Yet.
- Warrior (feat. John Cooper).
I said in a recent review that it was a rarity that I would give the time of day to anything modern that did not fall within the melodic rock family. One band that immediately makes it through my filters though are hard rockers Skillet. I have been a big fan of these guys for years and they are an immediate purchase for me without ever hearing a single note of an album first. In fact I have seen them over 30 times live over the years. They are a modern rock band but have more than a modest amount of melodic rock flavorings in their music and their dynamic frontman, John Cooper, has often alluded to his love of 80’s rock, even performing things like Bon Jovi’s ‘I’ll Be There For You’ in concert.
I have had the absolute pleasure of meeting and speaking with these guys many many times over the years, going all the way back to before the band was known much at all. In fact the first time I met John was not long after the band’s debut album released in 1996. They are all some of the coolest folks out there. Even now, when they are huge and sharing the stage with some of the biggest names in modern rock music, they continue to stay humble and have never come across to me as feeling entitled for being the successful rock stars they are.
The first time I met Jen Ledger was during the ‘Comatose’ tour, right after she had joined the band. We met again a bit later when the band visited my home State of North Carolina’s State Fair. My wife and I came across her and, then Skillet guitarist, Ben Kasica, as they were strolling through the fairgrounds and they were kind enough to stop and chat with us. Since then I have met her a few more times and she could not be a nicer, more genuine human being.
All of this to say, when I heard that she was going to be releasing her first solo effort, I was on board right away, even though I figured there was going to be a strong chance it was not going to match with my taste in music.
So who is she? Well, English born Jen Ledger came to Skillet as a complete unknown to fans at the mere age of 18 and became an instant hit with the fans, quickly leaving her mark with her energetic drumming and her increasing amount of lead and backing vocals alongside Cooper.
Her first record with the band was 2009’s excellent ‘Awake’, one of my favorite albums from the band to date alongside their latest record, ‘Unleashed’ (the re-release of which made it as Melodic Music Review’s number one modern rock album of 2017. See my review of the original release here), and since that time John has, thankfully, continually written her more frequently into lead vocal parts.
I was not sure what to expect from this solo outing. Were we just in for a female version of Skillet or was Jen going to be able to step away from the band’s considerable shadow and let her own style shine through?
I knew without a doubt that the girl could sing, just listen to any of Skillet’s albums that she plays on and you will hear that. She has a beautiful voice and it blends amazingly well with John’s, but what was her solo style going to be like.
Well there are definitely some Skillet flavorings filtered throughout the record, but with Ledger, Jen has been able to stretch beyond that. So with a bit of Skillet, a bit of Flyleaf’s Lacey Sturm and her very own influence, Ledger manages to sound familiar and different at the same time.
First of all, this is definitely another album that is outside of my usual wheelhouse musically speaking, but with each spin of the disc I have enjoyed it more and more.
‘I’m Not Dead’ starts things off. This has a Flyleaf sound to it and this head banger is a great album opener.
‘Warrior’ is a heavy rocker that features John Cooper as a guest vocalist. This one has a definite Skillet sound to it.
‘Foreigner’ and ‘Bold’ are both great upbeat pop-rockers and are actually stronger then the first two tracks in my opinion.
‘Ruins’ is the song I was hoping for from the record. One to showcase the beautiful voice that Jen has. A lovely ballad with an exceptional vocal performance.
The EP ends with the hard rocking ‘Iconic’, another that has some definite Skillet influences to it.
There are elements to this EP that are far too modern for my taste but somehow it all works fantastically here and I love it.
Not my typical musical taste and certainly not my typical choice for a review here, but in my effort to try and add a few different things to the site, and the fact that I do quite like this, I thought I would give it a review and put it up for those who may be interested to see.
A terrific first taste of music from this young talent, produced in part by Korey Cooper, this is an infectious mix of modern hard rock and pop rock that is filled with hopeful, positive lyrics, this EP is one that fans of Skillet, Lacey Sturm and Flyleaf should definitely like.