Scars & Stories (Deluxe Version)

The Fray

Scars & Stories (Deluxe Version)

On its third album, The Fray journeys across physical and emotional landscapes as it fortifies its music with a bolder production approach. Producer Brendan O’Brien pushes The Fray toward a more muscular, aggressive sound while retaining the graceful piano interludes that defined the band’s earlier work. Lead singer Isaac Slade continues to project a heroic (if tormented) presence in defiantly idealistic numbers like “Heartbeat,” “Here We Are," and “The Fighter.” He takes on a seafarer's spirit in “The Wind” and delivers a compelling romantic vignette in “Rainy Zurich.” The band’s underlying Christian faith is expressed most clearly in the stately, hymn-like “Be Still.” At its best, The Fray has the power to disarm the most cynical listener with a heartfelt ballad—it does that here in “I Can Barely Say,” a falsetto-tinged confession of need draped with dramatic orchestration. Big in sound and ambitious in scope, Scars & Stories aims for a wide audience but doesn’t lose its humanity in the process.

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