Monday, April 2, 2012

Holly Spears: Heartache to Hope Review

In 2009, Holly Spears released an independent project titled Redemption Road. Little did Holly know that she would soon be seeing her song uses on TV shows, played on radio stations, and performed on stage. Holly soon formed her own record label, Girl On A Mission, where she prepares for the release of her project Heartache to Hope, already receiving early hype over her singles “Watch Over Me” and “Learning to Love.” Through Heartache to Hope, Holly hopes to offer hope to those dealing with deep hurts.

The album begins a little weak with the catchy pop track “Just Another Love Song.” Holly’s mid-range vocals are immediately recognized, but don’t sound forceful enough at first. However, the lyrics speak of putting on a fake representation of strength when we are broken inside, and wanting to “just for once… feel that someone’s on my side.” “A Beautiful Mess” speaks of taking our hurts, and “dressing them up to look all pretty.” It’s a little more melodic, but the real first highlight off Heartache to Hope is the soft acoustic “Identity.” It has a very relatable message of a girl who changes who she is to be pleasing to her boyfriend, but inside is screaming for freedom. I’ve heard so many stories like this, so kudos to Holly for putting in words well. Her soft vocals, matched with the acoustic guitar, is very soothing.

With another acoustic guitar track, “Hard to Carry” is a prayer for the times when we try so hard to forgive but can’t figure out how. It expresses our need for strength in this dark hour we all face. I do wish the track had built a bit, but it definitely has amazing lyrics. “A Small Voice” is a little more upbeat, continuing the lyrics of crying out for someone to hold on to during the heartbreak.

And while the mildly upbeat “Where’d You Go” speaks of loss over a relationship, the mellow acoustic guitar “Fairytale Dreams” encourages the listeners who dream but feel worthless and incapable. Especially a highlight are these overriding lyrics: “It’s alright to be who you’re made to be/ don’t be afraid.”

“Even Flowers” was a little hard to decipher, but it does have an excellent chorus. It speaks of how the pain we are inflicted with builds us up: “Thank you for the pain, ‘cause even flowers need the rain.” A little more upbeat, and appropriately with a happy tune, “Looking For You” follows with nice supportive choirs, as the song speaks of finding the one you’ve been waiting your whole life for. “Watch Over Me” continues that message through a catchy pop track with excellent bass. I do wish that the vocals would have been a little more dragged out, but this is a single that both Christian and mainstream audiences will likely connect to.

With an electronic drumbeat, “Learning to Love” speaks to the broken, letting them know that “no matter what it is, you’re not alone.” This unique track also has a gospel piano for an interesting twist. The album wraps up with the title track, “Heartache to Hope,” a soft but melodic closing that speaks of how God takes our pain and makes something beautiful out of it: “From heartache to hope/ You brought me through it all/ You took my mess/ made something beautiful.” It summarizes all the songs of brokenness and confusion excellently, offering hope to those who are in that state.

After an honest listen through Holly Spear’s Heartache to Hope album, it becomes clear that it’s more than just another album – it’s a concept album. The listener follows the journey of a broken girl to someone who has found love and seen God’s goodness by bringing her through it all. That truly is an exciting listen! There are a few flaws with the album, mostly being a few weak parts in several of the songs, but overall, the overwhelming message of the power of God’s love displayed in our most broken moments is very encouraging.

Rating: 3.5/5
Release date: April 3, 2012

Track listing:
1. Just Another Love Song
2. A Beautiful Mess
3. Identity
4. Hard to Carry
5. A Small Voice
6. Where’d You Go
7. Fairytale Dreams
8. Even Flowers
9. Looking For You
10. Watch Over Me
11. Learning to Love
12. Heartache to Hope

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