Review by Shannon Shumaker
It’s hard not to feel moved by Yellowcard’s latest release, Lift A Sail. A lone violin starts the album off in a slow, mesmerizing way, and by the time that the first track, “Convocation,” transitions into “Transmission Home,” Lift A Sail promises to be one of Yellowcard’s greatest releases to date. While Yellowcard have definitely stepped away from the sound that their fans have gotten accustomed to over the years with a bigger, fuller and more asthmatic sound, the change couldn’t have come at a better time. Lift A Sail definitely marks an evolution for Yellowcard, as this album sounds completely different than anything they’ve ever released, but in the absolute best way possible. Yellowcard have managed to showcase their growth and change as musicians and people with this release, and the final product is phenomenal.
Something that I’ve always loved about Yellowcard, and something that definitely carries over into Lift A Sail, is the balance that they manage to find in their sound. No one instrument outshines the other on this record - instead, they all work together like a well-oiled machine to create the final product. While on some tracks, Ryan Key’s vocals definitely shine (especially on “Transmission Home,” his vocals in the chorus are jaw dropping - easily some of his best vocal work to date) and while some songs have an especially gorgeous violin part (see “Fragile And Dear” or “MSK”) each shining moment comes with a purpose. In fact, every song on Lift A Sail has a purpose, making it nearly impossible to choose just one favorite track.
One of the best things about Lift A Sail is that it doesn’t faltar. The entire record flows amazingly from one track to the next, from the bigger, more anthematic tracks such as “Crash The Gates” to fast-paced, poppy songs like “Make Me So,” into the band’s slower single “One Bedroom.” Lift A Sail should absolutely be listened to in order, because the album as a whole is a theatrical journey. The way that the songs are structured and placed on this album is well thought out and proof of Yellowcard’s maturity and experience as musicians.
The turning point in Lift A Sail comes with the album’s ninth track, “The Deepest Well,” which feature guest vocals from Memphis May Fire’s Matty Mullins. “The Deepest Well” is definitely one of the most hard-hitting tracks on the album, and the energy promises amazing performances from the band on their upcoming tour with Memphis May Fire. After “The Deepest Well,” the album progresses into its inspirational title track, which is sure you leave you breathless. If any message should be taken away from Lift A Sail, it should be the positive one on this track, as some of the best lyricism on the album is definitely found on “Lift A Sail” and the final songs following it.
After “Lift A Sail,” the album winds down, but that’s not to say that it doesn’t end on a high note, as some of the best tracks on Lift A Sail are the violin-heavy “MSK,” and the emotional “My Mountain.” Yellowcard definitely pour all of themselves into the closing tracks on Lift A Sail, ending it with the slow, gorgeous and emotional love song, “California,” as Ryan Key coos, “When shadows try to swallow me/You’re the only light I’ll ever need/And I’m holding onto you.”
As a whole, Lift A Sail is a very matured and refined album. It may not be what fans of Yellowcard expected from the band, but it is easily one of their best releases to date. Every track on Lift A Sail is remarkable, from the album’s anthematic beginning to the emotional and personal single, “One Bedroom,” to the energetic “The Deepest Well” and into slow ending with “California.” Lift A Sail is a rebirth for Yellowcard and a gorgeous journey from start to finish. This is an album that shouldn’t be missed.
Listen to "Transmission Home" "The Deepest Well" and "California"