With Holcomb’s first solo effort, As Sure As the Sun (Full Heart Music), Scripture is, once again, intentionally at the forefront of all 11 tracks. Written before—and while—Ellie was pregnant 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.
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Good News and Great Truth| Posted February 18, 2014
I first heard Ellie Holcomb sing with her husband's band Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors when they opened for NEEDTOBREATHE on their tour last year. Ellie is the daughter of legendary Christian music producer, Brown Bannister. Having released two solo EP's, Magnolia and With You Now, Holcomb's full-length album, As Sure As the Sun is available everywhere February 18. She raised the funds needed to make the album with her Kickstarter campaign, resulting in one of the most funded music projects to date. Having previously enjoyed her songs with Drew like "Hung the Moon" and her duet with Christa Wells, "Have Your Eyes Open," I was excited to hear these songs which are all based on Scripture.
Piano based opening title track "As Sure As the Sun" is an unashamed declaration of faith based on Hosea 6:3. Ellie belts out the sincere words, "There is Good News, there is great Truth, that you can never change / no matter what you do, you are loved, more than you know, more than you could hope for / after everything you've done, as sure as the sun will rise and chase away the night / as sure the sun will rise, His mercy will not end." The album is loaded with that type of profound lyrical truth as Ellie tenderly sings about her source of hope, Jesus. Throughout the song she achingly sings "His mercy will not end," which is a worshipful response reflecting the blessed hope of someone who understands the Good News of grace.
Her next song "Marvelous Light"is a great reminder of our "royal priesthood" as believers, and how Scripture urges us to"walk out of the darkness and into the light." The song celebrates the promise of 1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV): "you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light."
Ellie begins the song "The Broken Beautiful" with the prayerful words"I know that I don't bring a lot to the table, just little pieces of a broken heart." Right from the opening notes, you'll be captivated by the melody and message of this amazing song. The strong biblical message "Your love will never change, there's healing in Your name, You'll take broken things and make them beautiful" is based on Isaiah 61:10 (The Voice) which celebrates: "It's as though I'm dressed for my wedding day, in the very best: a bridegroom's garland and a bride's jewels."
"My Portion and My Strength" is a standout song, written in the style of David's Psalm 73:26 (NIV) where David cries out: "My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Ellie's worshipful refrain throughout the song is "Help me believe, You will be my portion and my strength." The song could be added to church worship services with the vertical lyrics.
"Night Song" features Ellie singing this vulnerable Psalm 42:8 inspired expression, "The Truth that sings into my darkness, the melody of love that leads me on / the voice that comforts all of my sadness, even when the suffering is long / be my night song." God promises that His mercies are new every morning.
"Love Never Fails" is an upbeat song paraphrasing 1 Corinthians 13, declaring the truth that "love never fails, and that's a promise, love never fails, help me believe it…Oh Lord, help me to live like love never fails.""Love Broke Through"is a Psalm 30:11 (The Voice) inspired faith statement reflecting David's joy before the Lord, "You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing; You stripped off my dark clothing and covered me with joyful light." The song crescendo's to Ellie celebrating, "There on the Cross, Your Love Broke Through." It is a beautiful expression of faith in Jesus's promise, "It is finished."
"Only Hope I've Got" is a Psalm 71 based prayer song that proclaims "I don't want to be a thief who's stealing Your glory will You help remind me what is true…the only hope I've got is You." The gorgeous and moving Psalms 23 and 69 inspired song "The Valley" also appears on Magnolia. The song expresses a theme of the album as expressed by Ellie's vulnerable prayer: "I'm dying for You to make me whole."
As expressed in Luke 7:47 (NKJV): "Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little." Ellie loves a lot, and that is evident throughout this stellar "gourmet" offering."As Sure As the Sun," "Marvelous Light," "The Broken Beautiful," "Night Song," "Love Never Fails," "Love Broke Through," "The Valley" and "I Want to Be Free" are all stand-out tracks filled with overwhelming biblical truth and are companions in my personal prayer and worship time. Ellie has captivating and catchy songs filled with inspirational lyrics. Ellie brings sincerity and relatable themes that get deeper with each listen. As Sure As the Sun is one of the top albums of the year. This is truly a great album and a moving and prayerful worship experience.
Song to Download Now: "The Broken Beautiful" (Get it on iTunes here.)
Ellie’s new album is a beautifully rendered musical portrait of a soul desperately pursuing God, and then running headlong into Him, face-to-face, in the pages of His Word. The imagery of light triumphing over darkness also has a constant presence: besides the title track, for example, the celebratory song “Marvelous Light” shakes the earth with pure joy and gives you the sense of finally escaping a pitch black dungeon and walking into a wide open space on a sunny day — and then, like a kid on the first day of summer, dancing and jumping up and down with abandon.
There is great joy and victory on this album.
But it’s the real kind. The costly kind — the kind that only comes from dark nights of the soul that force a person to cling to God because He has truly become their only hope. And, honestly, that is the safest place we could ever be on this earth, even though it often comes through great sorrow. If I were to give that place a name, it would be At-The-End-Of-Ourselves. Once we reach the end of our rope and finally lean on Him with our full weight, it is then we suddenly experience freedom — as Ellie describes in the soulful closing track “I Wanna Be Free.”
And then there’s “My Portion and My Strength.” I could easily put this song on repeat and just let it run — or soar, more accurately, as the melody takes flight so effortlessly. The production, songwriting, and performance on this track is a perfect example of the adage “Less is more”: the sparse pitter patter brushes on the drums, the delicate acoustic guitar weaving major seventh chords with a sort of restrained urgency, the secondary guitar tracks quietly plucking harmonics, and Ellie’s voice floating and hovering over all of it with words like: “Help me to stand on the promise that You’re holding my right hand, / Help me to know that even when I lose my grip You won’t let go, / Help me believe that You will be my portion and my strength.”
That line of lyric captures another prominent theme on this album, and it adds an addendum to my opening description. Yes, the album captures the journey of a soul chasing after God and “apprehending Him” with joy as Tozer has written elsewhere, but the album is also about standing on a solid foundation of God’s promises by faith — even when the emotions or warm fuzzies of sensing God near are not present in the seasons of great trial. As Ellie so candidly and earnestly shared in her interview with me a few days ago, sometimes our emotions and our heart’s ability to believe don’t always comply with what we know to be true. Sometimes we doubt. Sometimes we forget. Any saint who is honest will admit having experienced those moments where we lift our eyes to our Good Shepherd and whisper, “help my unbelief.” Sometimes no matter how hard we try, the darkness is still getting to us and we’re not feeling God’s presence. Saint John of the Cross wrote about that journey in his classic Dark Night of the Soul. Tracks like “The Valley” and “Only Hope I’ve Got” further explore these themes with pristine melodies and songwriting — always ending with a conclusion of hope even after the sorrow and doubt, just as David did whenever he reached the end of a psalm.
The opening track “As Sure as the Sun” — a solo piano prayer that haunts and swells with brokenness and child-like trust — expresses that tipping point, that moment of breakthrough in the “dark, in the doubting, when you can’t feel anything” when suddenly a light breaks through and your heart finally realizes that “Oh His love remains the same, as sure as the sun will rise” — as the song says.
In the midst of these emotionally intense and heavy themes, there are tracks that balance the weightiness with a fun, jovial spirit — playful and triumphant, the way you imagine Heaven to be after God has wiped every tear. I’m especially thinking of the tracks “The Broken Beautiful,” “Love Never Fails,” and “Marvelous Light.”
Jesus taught that you can know the hidden inner reality of something by looking at the outer fruit that it produces. After listening to this album I was experiencing a deep refreshment in my walk with God, and that continues to happen the more I listen to these songs. The good fruit was immediate. When God places His Word in something, it never returns void. If there’s one album you buy in 2014, do yourself a favor and pick up As Sure as the Sun. God will use it in your life, and He will refresh you — just like in Hosea 6:3:
“Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”