Hollyn "One-Way Conversations" Album Review


Prime Cuts: Obvious?, Waiting For, In Awe

Hollyn is what Amy Grant, Kathy Troccoli and Stacie Orrico were one generation ago.  She's able to peddle the interest of secular ears (such as those who have grown up with Adele & Alessia Cara) as well as still hold onto her Gospel-centred mandate.  Of late, contemporary music has been inundated with country music, worship music, and so much R&B undercurrents, but fewer and fewer are the purveyors of genuine pop music.  With her soft beats and her synth-driven sound forming her musical palate, Hollyn is a much needed breath of fresh air. 

Though this is her debut record, she's far from being a rookie.  Already a streaming CCM queen, Hollyn has had received 21 million combined streams over the Internet.  Her former single lifted from her eponymous EP, "Alone (Featuring TRU)" was a #1 hit for a staggering 9 weeks. This Ohio native started her career in 2013 when she appeared on season 12 of American Idol, where she made it to the Hollywood week rounds before she was eliminated. Noticed and mentored by tobyMac, Hollyn appeared on tobyMac's "This Is Not a Test album," where she sang leads on "Backseat Driver" and "Light Shine Bright."

Having been signed to Gotee Records, "One-Way Conversations" is her debut 11 track full length album for the imprint.  Indeed, there is a conversational nature to these 11 tracks, such that they colloquially address issues close to our hearts. Album opener "Can't Live Without" staggers with such honesty that it grabs us from the get-go.  Without any scaffolds of pretension, Hollyn admits that though she doesn't have all the answers in life, but the overwhelming love of God is enough. More soul-piercing moments come with the piano ballad "In Awe," a personal worship song that is so up, close, and personal with Jesus himself. 

The word "hit" is stamped all across the bouncy dance anthem "Love With Your Life." Mentor tobyMac and Diverse City lend their voices to "Go."  Incorporating hip hop beats and restrained rap interludes, "Go" is the type of song that will draw even the religious stoic in. "Obvious?" further develops the theme of the album where Hollyn confronts a friend who has been erecting too many walls for any intimacy to seep through.  "Waiting For" is the denouncemrnt of the album.  It's as if the confusion and frustrations we hear about earlier in the album come to a Godly and satisfying in Jesus via this pensive ballad.  A must-hear for those of us lingering in the limbo of indecisions.

The music of Hollyn is fresh, contemporary, and it will definitely open up conversations with the unconverted Millennials.  But there's such timeless spiritual truths in them that it will also slowly open up our hearts to converse with the Almighty if we pay careful attention to the words.  Thus, this album is a conversation starter in so many ways.  



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