Photographers: Kate Szatmari; Eric Ryan Anderson; Patrick Parker; Adam Elmakias; Tim Tronckoe; Josh Rossi; Ray Shum; Mikael Hakali; Jamie Limbright.
Dancer, violinist, Manga and dubstep enthusiast, composer, performance artist, America's Got Talent contestant, and Elder Scrolls-loving internet celebrity, Salt Lake City, Utah native Lindsey Stirling is the Faerie Queen of millennial new age music, and her sophomore studio album, the 12-track, largely conceptual Shatter Me, offers up a spirited set of high-octane classical crossover confections that occupy the barbed wire and flower petal strewn middle ground between Evanescence, Riverdance, Skrillex, and Narnia. Like her 2013 debut, Shatter Me is essentially a showcase for Stirling's instrumental prowess, and she delivers the heat with all of the fire, fury, and mad, pixie-ish sweetness that drew millions of people to her Lindseystomp YouTube channel, especially on standouts like "Beyond the Veil," "Master of Tides," and "Roundtable Rival," which weave sharp, confident melodies over a backdrop of glitch-heavy, yet largely conventional slabs of radio-ready electro-pop. She applies that same formula to the two non-instrumental tracks as well, both of which revolve (lyrically) around the album cover, which finds Stirling encased in a cracked crystal ball, and features Halestorm vocalist Lizzy Hale ("Shatter Me") and Meg & Dia lead singer Dia Frampton ("We Are Giants") giving the Auto-Tune processor a full eight-hour day. ~ James Christopher Monger