Daughtry’s ‘Spell’

Five years ago, Chris Daughtry lost out on TV mega hit “American Idol,” but this loss proved to be a small bump on the road in his rise to rock stardom. Since 2006, he has found massive success in his own right with his five-piece band, aptly  named Daughtry. Now they have released their third album, “Break the Spell.” It follows their usual formula pretty closely, turning out a catchy collection of radio-ready rock songs that occasionally wander into the realm of hard rock. Daughtry maintains his consistency, delivering hard-hitting vocals throughout, along with a few surprises.

The album kicks off with the up-tempo and gritty “Renegade.” This aggressive album opener errs heavily on the side of stylized hard rock and shows off Daughtry’s rebellious edge. Falling into a similar vein is “We’re Not Gonna Fall.” This inspiring song gives the vibe of a rock anthem and tells the audience to keep on keepin’ on the way only a rock song can. Also flirting with the line between pop rock and hard rock is “Louder Than Ever,” a feel-good track that would make for a perfect summertime radio hit.

“Crawling Back to You,” the first single off the album, is a vocally driven track that falls unmistakably into Daughtry’s niche. It delivers a memorable chorus, soaring melodies and the story of a complicated love affair, all colored with the unique texture of his magical pop-rock voice.

Fans may find a familiar fuzzy feeling in “Start of Something Good,” which is strongly reminiscent of Daughtry’s past hit “Life After You.” One of my favorite songs on the album, this track delivers the catchy melody and hard-hitting vocals that his audiences have come to expect.  However, its acoustically driven sound gives the song an updated and unique feel. The lyrics, which tell the story of a hopeful and budding romance, stray from Daughtry’s usual fare about watching meaningful relationships fall to ruins. This is a pleasantly unexpected change, one that is not exclusive to this track.

A standout track on the album is “Gone Too Soon.” Straying from Daughtry’s usual subject matter, it seemingly explores the loss of a child. While this may not be a radio-ready hit, it is a bold display of strong songwriting and explores touching new emotional territory.

The deluxe album is a good investment in that it features two solid rock numbers otherwise missed. The first, “Who’s They,” delivers a strong melody, but the repetition of the title throughout the song starts to sound repetitive and awkward by its conclusion. “Maybe We’re Already Gone” is also a strong bonus to be found in the deluxe version.

The album’s final track, “Lullaby,” stands out as the most unique track on Daughtry’s new album by far and stands as the most compelling reason to purchase the extended album. Written for his children, this is the only entirely acoustic track on the album. The blend of classic acoustic guitar and soft, textured vocals is strikingly beautiful. This pretty track is a surprising way to close the album and is drastically different from anything Daughtry has done in his other studio releases. While Daughtry’s pop rock staple works well, this lovely change of pace proved to be my favorite track.

Although “Break the Spell” arguably isn’t the most innovative track to hit shelves this year, remaining true to the Daughtry mold doesn’t seem like such a bad idea, given that their debut album went four-time platinum just five years ago. That being said, this release sticks to what Daughtry fans know and love while making a few bold choices. Notably, the lyrics on this album are markedly more positive than the last as the band delves into new niches of music and lyricism.

“Break the Spell” shows off both the band’s musical and creative talent; the entire group was much more involved in the writing process than in the past. As always, this album displays the unique vocal texture which Daughtry never fails to lend to his work. Ultimately, “Break the Spell” is a solid and entertaining addition to Daughtry’s great repertoire.

Rating: 4 out of 5