It’s only March, but I think I might have heard the rock album of the year.
Take one listen to The Strange Case of …, Halestorm’s second full-length album, and the meaning of the title—a reference to Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde—is readily apparent. While the band’s self-titled debut stayed within its hard rock comfort zone, this one is far more adventurous, almost but not quite schizophrenic at times.
The songs range from the all-out metallic assault of “Love Bites (So Do I)” to the tender piano ballad “Break In” and cover just about all the ground in between. Most bands would be straining at one end of the spectrum or the other, but not Halestorm. This quartet from Red Lion, Pa., originally formed by the sibling combo of frontwoman Lzzy and drummer Arejay Hale, plays with such obvious passion and writes from the heart empowering songs for its (mostly) young fans to rally behind ( “Freak Like Me” and “You Call Me a Bitch Like It’s a Bad Thing” foremost among them).
Picking a favorite song is almost impossible, but if I had to, I’d go with the sleazy, Southern-rockish “American Boys,” which is the best showcase yet for lead guitarist Joe Hottinger. And therein lies much of the beauty of Halestorm. Lzzy Hale is one of the most dynamic voices in rock music today, yet it’s all about the band and the songs—i.e. the music.
I have no problem imagining any one of the 12 tracks of The Strange Case of …becoming a massive hit at rock radio, and several have major crossover potential. Mark my words—“Here’s to Us,” a song about celebrating life through all its ups and downs (which apparently already has been featured on an episode of the TV show Glee), is just waiting to explode.