Reviewed by Chris Webb
As her numerous fans now know, Ellie has emerged after years of relative obscurity singing as part of her husband's band Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors to become a CCM star and this is her breakthrough album. This album doesn't burst into the ears but slowly insinuates its way into consciousness, like the burning of the fuse approaching the gunpowder keg rather than the barrel itself exploding. Her melodies are silky smooth; her lyrics lift the spirit and encourage the soul. Her voice is a phenomenal tool, at times rough, breathy and husky, and then rich, clear and haunting. Country inflections, folk phrasing and pop performances are all handled with ease. This distinctive voice, at times sounding like Lanae' Hale, carries each song's mood into the deepest corners of the psyche. Impeccably produced by her top-notch producer father Brown Bannister, with styles moving from pop through country, folk and light rock, everything is handled classily by her band. The 11 tracks deal with life's issues, love - both human and divine, praise, thanksgiving and hope, written both in her own words and incorporating biblical phraseology. Gentle piano echoes the haunting vocal melody line of the title track, which kicks off the album, reinforcing the message ("There is good news/His mercy will not end"). "Marvelous Light" bounds along at a cracking pace, military style snare and bass drums drive the sound of jangly banjo, keyboard and flute, her voice soars and sighs ("I walked out of the darkness and into the light"). Gentle tracks such as "My Portion And My Strength" and "Only Hope I've Got" nestle comfortably alongside the brighter, brasher offerings, all pointing to God and reflecting his impact on a person's life. Chunky acoustic guitar lopes along to support a classic country vocal line with shimmering steel guitar providing a foil to close the album with "I Wanna Be Free", a song of hoped for deliverance from pain that has been held onto for far too long. This is an album of variation, light and shade, grayscale and colour, a warm welcome into the world of Elllie Holcomb.
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|Nashville-area singer/songwriter Ellie Holcomb offers her first full-length record As Sure As The Sun, an eleven-song set of charming folk pop and poetic, Scripture-referencing lyricism. |
Written before and during Ellie’s pregnancy with her daughter, Ellie says her hope is to refresh and encourage weary and wounded hearts.
Whether it’s the beautiful reminder of how God’s mercies are new every morning in the title track, the emphasis on being truly known, warts and all, and truly loved by God nonetheless in Marvelous Light or the enduring promise of how God turns our weeping into dancing in the aptly titled The Broken Beautiful, Ellie’s clear vision for uplifting the weary and wounded who need a reminder of who God is – and how He loves them – has already been connecting on a deep level.