Lindsey Stirling – Duality

Violinist Lindsey Stirling describes her latest album, aptly titled “Duality,” as two albums in one. The idea behind this name is that the twelve tracks on “Duality” come from, as the American artist says, two very different sides of herself. The result is Stirling’s most versatile album in years, featuring a diverse range of musical influences from around the world on one hand, and Stirling’s well-known combination of violin playing and electronic music on the other.

It has been five years since Stirling released an album entirely composed of original music (“Artemis”). Of course, in 2022, there was “Snow Waltz,” but as a holiday album, it primarily featured covers of Christmas songs. Therefore, “Duality” is a breath of fresh air, offering a collection of brand-new, self-written songs from start to finish. According to the description received by Maxazine with the review copy of “Duality,” the first half of the album is inspired by music from different parts of the world. This is immediately evident in the opening track “Evil Twin,” a strong and (for Stirling) dark number with a dubstep twist and Egyptian influences (the music video was filmed at the Pyramids of Giza).

Following this is the upbeat “Eye Of The Untold Her,” showcasing Stirling’s violin talent in full glory with many tempo changes and a combination of playing techniques. This is the first track from “Duality” that Stirling shared with her fans, inspired by the various professional and personal challenges she has overcome in her career. The message is to never give up, and the song ends with an optimistic melody. This optimism continues in the captivating “Surrender” (perhaps paradoxically, given the title), followed by the calmer “Serenity Found.” The latter track is particularly beautiful: with its serene, Asian-sounding background melodies and slower tempo, Stirling’s violin truly takes center stage here. “Untamed,” with its clear Celtic influences, is powerful and energetic.

In “Purpose,” Stirling sings in the background, imparting a heartfelt message to her listeners: “give yourself a reason.” Despite the positive message, the production of this track is somewhat less successful, with the vocals and bass tones occasionally out of balance, threatening to overshadow the violin and making the lyrics sometimes difficult to understand.

“The Scarlet Queen” offers a pleasant change, reminiscent of “Masquerade” from Stirling’s earlier album “Artemis,” but with a light dubstep beat. The subsequent track, “Inner Gold,” also features a delightful beat, perfectly complementing the vocals of Royal & the Serpent. “Survive,” featuring vocals by Sarah Blackwood of Walk off the Earth, is another standout track, clearly referencing Gloria Gaynor’s disco hit “I Will Survive.” With its catchy rhythm and Spanish-sounding melody, “Survive” is a strong number in its own right, worthy of a spot in the Eurovision Song Contest (and a contender for the win!).

As in “Purpose,” Stirling offers sung advice on the track “Kintsugi” (‘give it time,’ this time). Compared to “Purpose,” the production of “Kintsugi” is more refined, with Stirling’s hopeful background vocals blending beautifully with her violin notes. The heavier “Firefly Alley” is somewhat less balanced in terms of production, with Stirling’s instrument occasionally being overpowered by the loud electronic tones. Fortunately, Stirling wraps up the album beautifully with the cheerful “Les Fées,” characterized by an upbeat, perhaps even eccentric melody and background vocals in French. In this way, the violinist successfully encapsulates the diverse elements of “Duality” in the final track.

Despite the various influences, Stirling’s greatest achievement is making “Duality” a cohesive whole. Her music consistently revolves around overcoming personal obstacles and maintaining self-belief. Even though Stirling perceives this album as consisting of two distinct halves, at least in terms of sound, these themes remain prevalent throughout and serve as a unifying thread across all the tracks. Some songs are ominous, others hopeful, but the overarching message is one of resilience and encouragement, with Stirling sometimes offering literal advice. The main critique is that the producers occasionally went overboard, resulting in Stirling’s violin facing unnecessary competition from the background melodies. Thankfully, these moments are few and far between, and they do not detract from the fact that “Duality,” despite its self-declared split personality, stands strong. In fact, this is Stirling’s best album since “Shatter Me” from 2014, making “Duality” a fantastic 10th-anniversary gift. (9/10) (Lindseystomp Music)

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