Reviews and entertainment articles by Dave Simpson
Written by Carl Phelan, Flyleaf Spreads Their Wings documents how the formation of a band called Listen in 2002 led to the incarnation of Flyleaf with which we are familiar today. Packed full of biographical details, interviews, quotes, photos and various other media, this is a book that certainly does not skip on information when it comes to the band’s career.
Mr. Phelan – grandfather of guitarist Jared Hartmann – clearly spent a lot of time compiling the resources for this work. It is apparent, as he states himself, that his efforts were a true labour of love for both his grandson and the band. The book’s chapters follow the same formula for the most part; a year in the life of the band is charted, generally followed by a combination of chapter summaries, tour dates and media articles relating to the period and a list of references.
Editorially speaking, perhaps the narrative structure could have been arranged in a way that blends all of Mr. Phelan’s research together more smoothly. The articles that appear at the end of some chapters may have been better served integrated into the main body of the text, where the point in the band’s career to which they pertain is addressed. I also wonder if the tour dates and references following each chapter might have been better collected at the end of the book in an appendix and bibliography, respectively.
While I am certainly not downplaying Mr. Phelan’s accomplishment in any way, the chapters’ run down of the band’s achievements can read more like a bullet point guide than a biographical account. The summaries at the end of the chapters can feel a little unnecessary too.
Structural issues aside though, the scale of the facts and accounts concerning the life of Flyleaf that Mr. Phelan has included is remarkable. From album releases to world tours to the making of music videos right up to Lacey’s departure and Kristen’s arrival, it’s all documented here. If you’re a fan, you’re sure to find something that sparks memories of your experiences with the band.
Seeing mention of their Dublin gig in March of 2010, at which I was in attendance, certainly did so for me. It was a Sunday afternoon, in an intimate venue called the Academy. We were treated to a wonderful mix of tracks from their then two albums. The only disappointment was learning later that I missed the opportunity to meet the band afterwards, an error that can hopefully be rectified some day.
And if you enjoy reminiscences about the band, you need look no further than the latter chapters of this book. Its most intriguing attribute are the stories that Mr. Phelan has included from friends, family and fans of the band. There are some wonderfully humourous and heartwarming tales.
An anecdote from Lacey’s mother, Lori Mosley, about the excitement of seeing her daughter on screen in Live Free or Die Hard when the video for “I’m So Sick” appeared resonated with me, due to the fact that this is how I discovered Flyleaf in the first place. Another delightful tale comes in the form of Kat Hartmann’s account of the first time she saw her future husband Jared at a gig, thinking him “super cute” and how Flyleaf have become part of her family.
Lacey’s recall of her very first show with the band is also noteworthy for the fact that she remembers the author of this very book – whom she refers to as “Pop” – being the most encouraging person in the audience. It reaffirms that the man responsible for putting this work together is as important to Flyleaf as they are to him.
The final few chapters are a further series of messages and statements from fans the world over about how Flyleaf have impacted their lives. It’s touching to hear the positive effect the band have had on so many people.
Carl Phelan may not be the most journalistic writer in the world but that doesn’t take away from what he has managed to put together. While the book’s content might benefit from some restructuring and further editing, it contains a staggering wealth of information. If you’re a Flyleaf fan, Flyleaf Spreads Their Wings is worth picking up, particularly for the contributions and messages from the band and those close to them. There’s a lot of warmth in there, that much is for sure.
Flyleaf past and present.
Review of Fyleaf’s new album, Between the Stars: https://davecsimpson.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/flyleaf-between-the-stars-review/
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