Album Review: Leave a Whisper

A very broad album with dark, deep emotions about the self and others’ actions


Raven Ryan

Shinedown, a hard rock band formed in 2001, has become extremely successful over the years, especially when their hit song “Second Chance” found its way to radio stations. Since then, their fame has maintained a steady pace. 

When I was a child, Shinedown was in its prime, releasing memorable, iconic lyrics and songs that are still a staple in my life today, especially the album Leave a Whisper. It was an album my mother played on repeat even while she was pregnant with me, and it was a running joke that I was born to be a rockstar because of my mom’s obsession with rock music. So, with my 17 years of listening to this album getting sick of it, I will be reviewing my absolute favorite songs. Unfortunately, though, I will not be reviewing the demos included in this album due to the fact that, well, they’re demos.

Although I usually pick songs that are my favorite based on the rhythm and musicality, I’m going to focus on lyricism and how much I relate to the lyrics. And with that, on top of my list is “In Memory.” In this song, the songwriter, Brent Smith, speaks about someone holding him back, keeping him from developing. In the lyrics, he states, Because I can’t wait for you to catch up with me.” 

Brent’s music is one that can have many meanings behind the lyrics, whether it’s a mental struggle, a relationship struggle, or a physical one. In my eyes, I see this song as a deep dive into relationships. The person expects Brent to fall back into the same patterns with them and act like everything is okay after dragging him through the mud. Brent feels locked inside this relationship or friendship, and it’s eating him alive to the point where he can’t even see the good in the person anymore. “I will not justify your ways. I cannot show you an escape, I do not know you any more, I never knew you anyway.” 

The next song that I really enjoy lyrically is “Stranger Inside.” Although the song is very straightforward and easy to understand, I think the lyricism is clever with the view of being so self-loathing that he is aware of his ill ways. “And I know you think I don’t see the signs

Well how do you know? Do I look blind?” Brent is explaining that he isn’t stupid, he knows he shouldn’t be seeing himself this way, but there’s this demonic side of him that can’t see himself as anything but a stranger. He wasn’t like this before, and he wishes he could be normal again. I think it’s also a very cool detail to ask the listener their feelings, making them reflect on how they feel. “Have you ever felt lost inside so unloved within that you almost die? Have you ever stepped out of the light and realized there’s a stranger inside?” 

Now bringing it down to a softer part of Brent that becomes more contemplative, we move to the band’s song “Burning Bright.” Brent described this song himself very clearly. “I wrote it as like a manual on life, that you write as you go, and realizing that you might be different than everyone else and things might be hard but you have to find your inner strength and your own ways to overcome your demons; it’s about being honest with yourself and staying true and not changing yourself for anyone, because in your darkest hour you’re the only one that can find the light.” One of my favorite lyrics of all time lies within this song about life, which actually is more of a whole verse than a line: “There’s nothing ever wrong, but nothing’s ever right. Such a cruel contradiction. I know I crossed the line, it’s not easy to define, I’m born to indecision. There’s always something new, some path I’m supposed to choose with no particular rhyme or reason.” I love these lyrics because it accurately describes the kind of confusion and sense of losslessness. What way do I pick? What is right and wrong? We learn it along the way, and I think he portrays this feeling very accurately with his choice of words.

Leave a Whisper is a very broad album with very dark, deep emotions about the self and others’ actions. I adore this album to this day, simply because of the theme. If you enjoy songs that delve deep into self-reflection and calling people out for their actions, I highly recommend even just reading the lyrics of some of these brilliant songs.