Artist Garden Entertainment
Release Date: September 18th 2015
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Through Me
- Never Going Back
- Everything I Need
- Forever Faithful
- My Father’s Love
- God Is
‘…if there is one lesson I can pick out that God has taught me over the past two years, it’s that in our lives, we all have longings and desires and things that we feel like we are missing [in] life, so we spend a lot of our time trying to master fulfilling those longings and desires. For some of us, it’s a relationship; for some of us, it’s a job; for some of us, it’s a higher position…but in the end, the thing we ultimately desire is God. He is everything we need…’ Possibly one of the most successful independent young artists over the last few years with the releases of highly popular albums like Focus (2012) and Tapestry (2010), 24 year old Holly Starr of Save the City Records is now continuing this run of lyrical proficiency and emotive songwriting in Everything I Need, Holly’s first EP and one that is a gentle reminder of our constant need of God in every circumstance, and His continually supply of it in spite and regardless of ourselves and our circumstances. Being a mainstay in Christian festivals over the years, from CreationFest to Lifefest, as well as delivering singles like “Don’t Have Love” and “Father’s Eyes”, both of which have fallen inside the top 25 on radio; Holly’s presence in Christian radio and in Christian music overall is as much an asset at it is an honour for anyone hearing Holly’s powerful voice and maturity beyond her years. From promotional singles “God Is” and “Never Going Back”, to first single “Through Me”, Everything I Need is a must for any fan of Holly’s previous work, or fans of similar artists like Britt Nicole, Bethany Dillon or Natalie Grant.
With a light acoustic framework and Holly’s distinctly powerful and ethereal vocals (perhaps the Nichole Nordeman of this generation (tied with Lindsay McCaul) in terms of vocal similarity and delivery), “Never Going Back” is a call and a statement to many who hear the song, as a reminder that we are never to go back to our lives previous to when we met God, knowing firsthand how much of a turnaround He has orchestrated in our lives thus far. “Never Going Back” is thus a catchy song that is everything that any CCM fan would hope for. Emotive lyrics and an easy-to-sing melody; nothing tops Holly’s passion and encouragement in the poignant yet equally confronting words of how we’re ‘…never going back to the way I was, whatever’s in the past is covered in love…’ As we look at our own lives, we start to wonder- are we really living out that phrase, or do we have some things still hanging over us leading to us not living up to our full God given potential? “Never Going Back” asks these questions, and is a great reminder, as well as a great way to declare and worship, knowing full well that ‘…no matter what comes, my mind’s made up, forever I’m Yours because of Your love…’ Well done Holly for such an engaging promotional single, and my favourite song to hear ever since “Don’t Have Love” and “Let Go” back in 2012.
Both “Through Me” and “God Is” are the remaining singles released prior to album release date, and while each of them are musically vastly difficult, each share a common theme of us believing the fact that God never leaves us, and trusting in how He shines His light through us even in the dire of circumstances. With just a piano and Holly’s hauntingly emotive and refreshing voice, “God Is” is a testament, that ‘…this is just a moment, this is not forever, I know it seems impossible and all your hope is gone, but God is…greater than the fear you’re facing, greater than the storm that’s raging…’ Though only a tad over 3 minutes, the 7th track is easily one of Holly’s most vulnerable, and with an accompanying music video highlighting the need for us to partner and support those less fortunate than us (in the video, the need is highlighted for autistic individuals), we are called to remind everything that God ‘is’ and always will be.
“Through Me”, though lighter, bouncier and less of a serious tone on the surface, still speaks of similar things, and Holly brings out autobiography to the surface of the melody, as “Through Me” reminds us all to shine our light for Christ, ‘…no matter where I go, no matter where You take me…there’ll be no doubt about it, no way that I can hide it when You shine Your light through me…’ Fast paced, toe-tapping, as enjoyable as ever, “Through Me” is a great opening number for an EP possibly one of Holly’s most lyrically mature (even though Focus is my personal favourite from Holly) throughout her whole career so far!
The remaining tracks, “Everything I Need”, “Sunshine”, “Forever Faithful” and “My Father’s Love”, all round out the EP, and all provide to us different musical styles to further let Holly branch out to become one of my favourite young artists under 25 within the pop/worship music genre. The title track of the album is one of the most poignant alongside “God Is”, and with a powerful percussion loop and Holly declaring out ‘…Jesus, You are my desire, my Father, my provider, You’re everything I need…’, what’s not to love about this song? A melody that could easily be inserted into set lists and it’ll fit right into the flow of praise and worship time on a typical Sunday, Holly continues to present relatable themes and encourage us all with comforting melodies and thought-provoking lyrics, from the acoustic and sunny “Sunshine” that describes the simple yet profound truth that God is the sunshine in our lives, and that whenever we are at our darkest, we can rely on the sun and the Son, that ‘…in our valley You are the sunshine making shadows disappear…’, to “My Father’s Love”, inspired by one of her closest friend and how she met her biological father for the first time not too long ago, and how we as Christians need to stand firm and close to the love that our heavenly Father gives. “Forever Faithful”, a potential radio single after “Through Me”, rounds out the seven tracks, and though possibly the most subdued song on the EP after “God Is”, it is also one of the most humble and poignant, as Holly sings about being faithful no matter what the circumstance, faithful to God, faithful to friends and family, and faithful to believe in the fact that God is with us even if we don’t feel Him in the circumstance. Well done Holly for such an enjoyable song, and one of my favourites on Everything I Need!
Holly’s new album, as much as Focus, is a breath of fresh air in a music industry still heavily focused on male singers and bands. Tackling heavy issues, like comfort, grace, testifying to the world of the love that shines through us…Everything I Need is Holly’s most poignant and compelling collection of songs I’ve heard thus far. An EP that’s certain to be enjoyed by listeners and critics alike as Holly, similar vocally to artists like Nichole Nordeman, Lindsay McCaul and Bethany Dillon; remind us all that God Himself is everything we need. A certain purchase if you love these aforementioned artists, or if you enjoy music geared towards teenagers/young adults; Everything I Need is a must purchase, one that will make you singing again and again, that ‘…I wanna be faithful no matter what, I wanna be stronger not giving up, and even in the fire let me be found forever faithful…’ (“Forever Faithful”). Kudos to Holly for such a standout EP, can’t wait til the next one whenever it comes!
3 song to listen to: Forever Faithful, God Is, Through Me
RIYL: Nichole Nordeman, Bethany Dillon, Lindsay McCaul, Britt Nicole, Natalie Grant