Focusing On God | Posted September 11, 2012 Staff Reviewer
Fresh-faced female vocalist Holly Starr might still be considered an up-and-comer in the music world, but that hasn't stopped her from already collaborating with some of the biggest names in the industry. At just 21, she's toured all over the US and opened for big named acts such as LeAnne Rimes, as well as written with top-notch producers Chris Stevens and Ian Eskelin.
Having been discovered on MySpace by singer/producer Brandon Bee when she was just a teenager, Holly has released two albums that chronicle her growing relationship with God, and the daily struggles and victories that go along with it. Taking an organic pop approach to her music, she has been wildly acclaimed for her stylistic originality and lyrical maturity.
Holly's third effort, Focus, comes as her most personal project to date. Deriving from a season where ‘focus' seemed like the farthest thing to achieve.
"I want to be around to be able to disciple kids that I really love", she explains, "but because of this calling, I'm not constant in people's lives. Learning to balance all that has been a challenge for me, but it's been a huge blessing to see how when God calls us to something, He provides and He gives time."
The airy and acoustic "Let Go" opens the album nicely, and dives right into deeper subjects of faith with the mid-tempo tune, "This Love", which speaks about our broken lives coming face-to-face with the unfathomable love of Jesus. The grove-driven and eccentric pop track "Don't Have Love" serves as a nice follow up to the previous track, sharing that we can have all the worldly positions we could ever hope for, but without Christ, they all mean nothing.
"Father Eyes" opens with an instantly ear-catching acoustic riff, and progresses into one of the best songs on the record both musically and lyrically, talking about seeing our lives through the eyes of God: "I know it's hard to see through what this world will tell you / Cause misconceptions and false reflections will never be the truth / Just know you're not the only one who's ever cried for help / Jesus loves you in way that you cannot love yourself."
"Me And You" talks about getting away from distractions that pull us away from God, while "Stop And Focus" walks along the same lines, coming as a statement to step away from the chaos life throws at us and take some time to stop and focus on our relationship with Jesus.
The upbeat and bubbly "Satisfied" shares about finding true fulfillment in our faith, and showcases Holly's bright and versatile vocals. "Constant" is a fun and dance inspired worship song, it being the most musically unique song on the project.
Slowing things down as the project comes to a close, the final two tracks "I Believe" and "Grace For All" are personally penned ballads that almost sound as if they were pulled directly from journal entries, the ladder of the two being my favorite as it opens up about the undeserving grace God is constantly showing us: "He knew the greatness of my fall, still He broke down every wall / All my sins are washed away / He has grace for all."
When listening to Holly Starr, it's almost impossible to not think of fellow female singer/songwriters like Bethany Dillon and Sara Groves, who take similar simplistic approaches to their musical craft and allow their thought provoking lyrics to take center stage. Focus showcases Holly's incredible lyrical talent, and it would surprise me greatly if she's not one of the most sought after songwriters in CCM within the next several years.
While her last effort, Tapestry, offers a better musical variety in my opinion, this project is far from disappointing, and is the perfect find for anyone looking for music with stripped back production and intimate lyrics of confession and praise.