Ellie Holcomb "As Sure as the Sun" Album Review

Ellie Holcomb - As Sure As the Sun
(Photo : Full Heart Music)

Where do Christian singer-songwriters get their inspiration?  Sad to say, many spend most of their time trying to get away from plagiarizing the latest polytechnics from the latest and grooviest radio hits.  Still others who are eloquent in the linguistics of secular love songs spend their time trying to cut and paste such rhetoric to Christian songs without sounding too religious. And if you were to cut many Christian singer-songwriters today, they bleed Adele, Beyonce and Miley Cyrus.  Few these days bleed the Bible.  The Scriptures become the unspoken assumption in far too many Christian songs; it's reverentially nodded but rarely expounded.  Now enters Ellie Holcomb.  Every song on her debut full length record "As Sure as the Sun" not only has some transparent connection with Scripture, but her song's germane ideas, her turn of phrases, her flow of the song's narrative, her word depictions, and her literary allusions, illustrations and nuances are all soaked in the truths of God's Word.  Such an album is rare and for this reason alone, it demands attention.Holcomb is not new on the music scene.  

For years, she had been singing with her husband's team Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors.  At the prodding of her hubby to record her own music, Holcomb has finally taken a step of faith of releasing her first debut album "As Sure As the Sun." This record follows her EPs "Magnolia" and "With You Now," and it features 11 songs all co-written or written by Holcomb herself.  Now on constant rotation in this reviewer's iTunes is "The Valley."  Written in a very depressing time of her life, Holcomb returns back to the Psalter, particularly Psalm 23 and 69, for wisdom.  On the surface, the lyrics may sound like it's the articulation of a woman crying out for God's intervention. But if you are familiar with the Psalms you will be amazed how much of Scripture echoes with every phrase.  And with the wizened power of God's word, just as bouncy as the retro 90s- rhythmic percussion, "The Valley" is a sure picker for the downtrodden.   

Calling to mind Nicole Nordeman and Sara Groves are Holcomb's breathy vocals on the piano based title cut "As Sure As the Sun." In stark contrast to many popular preachers and singers who rely more on pop psychology for inspiration but will ultimately be rendered ineffective, "As Sure As the Sun" is anchored on God's word.  And in this case Hosea 6:3 is the impetus that drives the song's message of hope.  While "My Portion and My Strength" is a sublime example of how the Psalms can shape the way we pray to God today.  Avoiding the perennial temptation of many singer-songwriters of being too indulgent in one style of music, "Marvelous Light" finds Holcomb putting on her dancing shoes for a Celtic-styled dance that is a double treat to the ears and feet. And with the skittering rhythmic patterns and its lithe melodies, "The Broken Beautiful" sounds like a song made for a Pixar soundtrack.  

Satan's legs sure are wobbly when you have three of music's most formidable ladies Christa Wells (Natalie Grant, Plumb & Sara Groves), Nicole Witt (George Strait, Gwen Sebastian & Point of Grace) and Holcomb herself penning the faith-empowered "Night Song."  Instead of bowing down in defeat when darkness seemed to prevail, "Night Song" is a prayer to God to entertain us with his soothing tenor in our greatest fears.  Don't miss "Only Hope I've Got," it's one of the best songs against idolatry with the sobering line: "I don't want to be a thief who's stealing your glory/Will you help remind me of what is true/The only hope I've hot, it's you."  Ultimately, there are songs that entertain and there are songs that transform via Scripture.  Rarely, you will get both on one record.  Holcomb's "As Sure as the Sun" is an exception. 

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