How to Save a Life

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This article is about the album. For the song, see How to Save a Life (song).
How to Save a Life
The Fray - How to Save a Life.jpg
Studio album by The Fray
Released September 13, 2005 (2005-09-13)
Recorded Echo Park Studios: 2005
Genre Alternative rock, pop rock
Length 45:56
Label Epic
Producer Aaron Johnson, Mike Flynn
The Fray chronology
Reason EP
How to Save a Life
Live at the Electric Factory: Bootleg No. 1
Singles from How to Save a Life
  1. "Over My Head (Cable Car)"
    Released: October 7, 2005
  2. "How to Save a Life"
    Released: August 28, 2006
  3. "Look After You"
    Released: February 6, 2007
  4. "All at Once"
    Released: June 2007

How to Save a Life is the debut studio album by American alternative rock group The Fray. Released on September 13, 2005 through Epic Records, the record charted in the top 15 on the Billboard 200 and was a top ten hit in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand and the UK. The first two singles from the album, "Over My Head (Cable Car)" and "How to Save a Life" helped the album become a commercial success and brought the band mainstream popularity.[1]

Critical reception to the album was mixed. The piano-rock style of the album drew comparisons with British piano-driven bands like Keane and Coldplay. The album was certified double platinum by the RIAA, and was also certified platinum in Australia, Canada, New Zealand and in the UK. The album went on to become the best-selling digital album of all time, breaking the record held previously by Coldplay's X&Y.[2][3] It was ranked #21 on Billboard's list of the Best Digital Albums of the Decade.[4]


After independently releasing two EPs, The Fray were looking for a record company to release a full-length album. The band released their song "Cable Car" to Denver radio station KTCL, and the song saw significant airplay.[5] Denver alternative newsweekly Westword named the band "Best New Band" in 2004, and this prompted Epic Records A&R man Daniel Davis to sign the band to a recording contract on December 17, 2004.[6] The album was recorded over six weeks in Echo Park Studios in Bloomington, Indiana, and was produced by Aaron Johnson and Mike Flynn.[7] Former bass guitar player Dan Battenhouse left the band a year before entering the studio, Jake Smith, former lead singer and guitarist of the band The Mysteries of Life, took over bass guitar duties.

Track listing[edit]

All songs written and composed by Isaac Slade and Joe King, except where noted. 

No. Title Length
1. "She Is"   3:56
2. "Over My Head (Cable Car)"   3:58
3. "How to Save a Life"   4:23
4. "All at Once" (Isaac Slade, Joe King and Aaron Johnson) 3:48
5. "Fall Away"   4:23
6. "Heaven Forbid"   3:59
7. "Look After You"   4:28
8. "Hundred" (Isaac Slade and Monica Conway) 4:13
9. "Vienna" (Isaac Slade, Joe King and Daniel Battenhouse) 3:51
10. "Dead Wrong" (Isaac Slade, Joe King and Michael Flynn) 3:05
11. "Little House"   2:30
12. "Trust Me"   3:22
Total length:

In later editions, an extra track was added:

  1. "Unsaid" – 3:05
Bonus CD
  1. "Over My Head (Cable Car)" (Live at the Gothic (05.20.2005))
  2. "How to Save a Life" (Live for & (07.14.2005))
  3. "Look After You" (Live at Red Rocks (08.12.2005))
  4. "Heaven Forbid" (Live at Red Rocks (08.12.2005))
Bonus DVD
  1. How to Save a Life (The Story)
  2. On The Road 2006 (Documentary)
  3. "Over My Head (Cable Car)" (Music Video)
  4. "Over My Head (Cable Car)" (Making the video)


The Fray
  • Isaac Slade - lead vocals, piano
  • Dave Welsh - lead guitar
  • Joe King - rhythm guitar, backing vocals, lead vocals on "Heaven Fordbid"
  • Ben Wysocki - drums, percussion
Adittional musicians


The album was released on September 13, 2005 by Epic Records. While the album did not make a splash commercially or critically initially, the success of "Over My Head (Cable Car)" propelled the album from the Top Heatseekers chart to the top 20 of The Billboard 200 chart. The release of the second single, "How to Save a Life", a world-wide smash, helped the album enter the top 5 in several charts across the world, and brought The Fray mainstream popularity.[8] The song remains the band's best known and most successful song to date.


Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[15]
Blender 3/5 stars[16] 1/5 stars[17]
Entertainment Weekly C+[18]
Jesus Freak Hideout 4.5/5 stars[19]
HM Magazine 4/5 stars[20]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars[21]
Sputnikmusic (4/5)[22]
Stylus Magazine D[23]

Overall, critical reception for the album was mixed. The piano-oriented sound of the album drew comparisons with British piano-rock band Keane, and Coldplay (whose music - although classified as alternative - is driven by the piano).[21][24]

Allmusic, whilst giving the album a modestly positive review, stated that the band "lacked originality" and the album itself lacked any "inspiration and excitement".[15] Stylus Magazine gave the album a negative review, stating "The Fray, as a rule, are moribund, emotionally strained, uninvolving, and have a tendency to sound like The Cranberries fronted by a man."[23] Rolling Stone and Blender echoed many of these statements, both giving the album three stars out of five.[16][21]

Sputnikmusic criticised the negative reviews, stating "there may be some skeptics who say it's just another mainstream band with no talent.....take one listen through the entire album and you might be pleasantly surprised with the outcome."[22] Jesus Freak Hideout gave the album a glowing review, stating "How to Save a Life is nearly perfect. Nearly every song's message contains key values and life' lessons."[19]


Chart (2006–07) Peak
ARIA Australian Albums Chart 1 (Platinum)[25]
New Zealand Albums Chart 2 (Platinum)[26]
UK Albums Chart 4 (Platinum)[27]
Irish Albums Chart 4
Canadian Albums Chart 9 (Platinum)[28]
Billboard 200 14 (2x Platinum)[29]
Belgium Albums Chart 47
Dutch Albums Chart 50
German Albums Chart 56
Swiss Albums Chart 57
Spanish Albums Chart 21
Italian Albums Chart 85
French Album Chart 86

Awards and nominations[edit]



Sample of "How to Save a Life"

Sample of "Over My Head (Cable Car)"

Problems playing these files? See media help.


  1. ^ "The Fray Biography". Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  2. ^ "The Fray: 'How To Save A Life' Now The Biggest Selling Digital Album Of All Time!". Sony BMG. 
  3. ^ "The digital success of The Fray (3:38)". Reuters. 
  4. ^ "Billboard - Music Charts, Music News, Artist Photo Gallery & Free Video". Billboard. 
  5. ^ Smith, Dane (March 30, 2006). "The Fray Live the High "Life"". Rolling Stone. 
  6. ^ "Completely Frayed". Longmont Daily Times-Call. May 12, 2006.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  7. ^ "The Fray Trivia & Quotes". Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  8. ^ "The Fray Biography". 2012-02-07. Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  9. ^ "Modern Rock Tracks". Billboard. October 22, 2005. 
  10. ^ "Billboard Hot 100". Billboard. October 7, 2006. 
  11. ^ "Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks". Billboard. October 7, 2006. 
  12. ^ "First half sales: Downloads up; CDs, revenues down". USA Today. July 13, 2006. [dead link]
  13. ^ "The Fray – How to Save a Life: Charts".  Last accessed May 12, 2007
  14. ^ "The Fray – their story to date".  Last accessed May 12, 2007
  15. ^ a b Sendra, Tim. "How to Save a Life - The Fray".  Last accessed October 23, 2006
  16. ^ a b Hunter, James (November 2005). "Review: The Fray - How to Save a Life". Blender. 
  17. ^ "The Fray - How to Save a Life". March 13, 2007. 
  18. ^ Jason Adams (September 9, 2005). "How to Save a Life Review". Entertainment Weekly. 
  19. ^ a b Logan Leasure (2007-12-10). "The Fray, "How To Save A Life" Review". Jesus Freak Hideout. Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  20. ^ Callaway, Chris (January–February 2007). "The Fray How to Save a Life". HM Magazine (123): 64. ISSN 1066-6923. 
  21. ^ a b c "Review: The Fray - How to Save a Life". Rolling Stone. September 22, 2005. Archived from the original on October 1, 2007. Retrieved November 8, 2012. 
  22. ^ a b "The Fray - How to Save a Life (album review) | Sputnikmusic". Sputnikmusic. 2005-12-15. Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  23. ^ a b Dom Passantino (2006-02-14). "The Fray - How to Save a Life - Review". Stylus Magazine. Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  24. ^ Gardner, Elysa (July 12, 2006). "Debut 'How to Save a Life' takes on a life of its own". USA Today. 
  25. ^ "". 2007-12-31. Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  26. ^ "The Official New Zealand Music Chart". Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  27. ^ "Certified Awards". 
  28. ^ CRIA Gold & Platinum certifications for January 2007. Retrieved July 25, 2007.
  29. ^ "Recording Industry Association of America". RIAA. Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  30. ^ a b "Fray Awards & Features". Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  31. ^ "49th Grammy Awards – 2007". Rock on the Net.  Last accessed February 22, 2007.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Extreme Behavior by Hinder
Australian ARIA Albums Chart number-one album
March 5–18, 2007
Succeeded by
Grand National by The John Butler Trio