Sunday, April 15, 2012


 Holly Spears grew up in Wana, West Virginia.  According to her website: "After hours of begging her mother and spotting in the classifieds by her mom, Holly got the first love of her life, her first guitar.  Little did she know that the seemingly insignificant purchase of her twenty five dollar garage sale special would set the stage for a whirlwind of new life experiences coming her way."  Holly was discovered by Eliot Sloan, lead singer of Blessid Union of Souls, while she was doing a radio internship.  After high school she began touring with Blessid Union of Souls and opening for the likes of the Spin Doctors and Gin Blossoms.  Her music began appearing on MTV, MTV2, and VH1 among other places.  Holly's latest album HEARTACHE TO HOPE (2012, Girl on a Mission Music, LLC) was produced by Mitch Dane (Jars of Clay, Bebo Norman, Caedmon's Call) and features vocal, bass, keyboard and mastering support from multi-platinum rockers Jars of Clay, according to a press release.  In a youtube interview in 2011 with the AUGEgirl Network, of the album, Holly says: "It's about how we tend to dress up on the outside to make everything look okay when really on the inside we're upset or we're hurting." 

The album begins with a mid-tempo pop number, 'Just Another Love Song', which finds her yearning for everlasting love: "Cause I bend and I break/There's so much I can take/Just for once I would like/To feel that someone's on my side/Thick or thin, through it all/When I stand, when I fall/I wanna know/Are you just another love song?/When I wake up will you be gone?/Or is this something that is lifelong/That won't go wrong?...No."  'A Beautiful Mess' is radio friendly in sound and is about taking off the masks we often wear: "Why do I always try to hide/Everything that I feel inside/Dress it up and make it look all pretty?/Don't ever let 'em see the gritty side/I'm tryin' to hide/No way-I'll be just fine."  'Identity' is a quiet number that talks of how females sometimes go too far to please their guys: "She's on the treadmill every day/She dyes her hair and throws her favorite clothes away/But somehow what she does is never quite enough/And she gets tired of performing for his love/Yeah, she gets tired of performing for his love."

'Hard to Carry' is again quiet and is ultimately about forgiving one who has hurt you: "I wrote your name down today/Then crumpled it up and threw it away/I'm angry for the words you said/And all the hurtful things you did/Lord, help me to forgive her please/She's so hard to carry/This broken heart/Inside of me/Is so hard to carry/Help me bless her soul/Wash us white as snow/Help me let it go."  'A Small Voice' is written from the perspective of a child sex slave: "Loving neighbor/Save me sister/Help me preacher/I need you, I need you/Don't you walk away/From these words I say/Come rescue me/From all I've seen/I'm suffering/I need you, I need you/I need your love/To protect me from/The one's who came/To rob me of/My innocence/My confidence/My self-respect/My voice in this."  'Where'd you Go' is well written and builds in intensity musically.  It is about a person who has not weathered the storms of life very well: "Don't you see yourself in the mirror there?/Who's that girl you see with the dull blank stare?/How I've missed your smile and the way you laugh/Like the way you looked in that photograph/Where'd you go, where'd you go?/When you comin' back?/I've longed for you/'I don't know, I don't know/Where I went' you said/'But I'm passing through'." 

'Fairytale Dreams' is a ballad that is a call to action: "Wake up o' sleeping beauty/Your life is out there waiting for you/It's waiting for you/Your dreams aren't just in your head/Take a leap of faith, use your heart instead/Get out of your bed/It's alright to be who you're made to be/Don't be afraid (2X)."  'Even Flowers' is a gem co-written with Sarah Conant.  It is about turning the abuse one may have suffered into something good and productive: "Don't you see what you've made of me?/I'm not afraid to be who I'm supposed to be/I've been weak, but you make me strong/Go on push me down and watch me get back up/Thank you for the pain, even flowers need the rain/Freedom feels so good/Just like I knew it would."  'Looking for you' has a faster beat and is about looking for and finding one's soulmate: "I've been waiting here/You finally came my dear/Been looking for you/To run away with me/Break your plans and see/What life is/Been looking for you/Oh, oh, oh/Oh, oh, oh/I've been looking for you." 

'Watch Over Me' is a good song to crank on your stereo.  It relates the satisfaction and security one feels when they are in love: "When you're here I know I am loved, it shows/God sent you to watch over me/I am glad tonight that you hold me tight/I need you to watch over me/Can you stay a while/Till I fall asleep?/Come next to me my dear/Calm my racing heart/Beating oh so fast/Come next to me my dear."  'Learning to Love' sounds energetic and uses organ to good effect.  The song encourages one and all to take a risk and open their hearts to love: "From the bottom of my soul, I hope you know/That you're never, never out here on your own/We're all learning to let love in/To let go and/Begin again/We're learning to love/We're leaving it all behind/To free our minds/We'll seek and find/As we're learning to love."  The title track 'Heartache to Hope' is a strong finishing number.  On it Holly rejoices in the fact that God uses our trials and tribulations to develop and perfect our character: "All my life until now/I was only thinking about/The wrong that's happened to me/But now I'm starting to see/From heartache to hope/You brought me through it all/You took all my mess/Made something beautiful."  The Bible passage James 1:2-4 comes to mind: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perserverance/Let perserverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything."

In the liner notes for HEARTACHE TO HOPE we learn that Holly does not take her music ministry forgranted: "I am extremely thankful for the gift God has given me to share with the world; for His provision and love in my life; and for the exciting adventure it is to be living out my dreams.  I am thankful for those who have built into my career financially; emotionally; and spiritually."  The cover photo of Holly is stunning!  If you enjoy the self-esteem building message of songs such as Johnny Diaz's 'More Beautiful You' and Kevin Max's 'Be', and if you enjoy the lighter pop sounds of Natalie Merchant, The Corrs, and Erin O'Donnell, this is the album for you.  Holly Spears is a supporter of the International Justice Mission.  I'm rating HEARTACHE TO HOPE 80%.  Holly is to be commended for writing eleven of the twelve tracks herself.  For more info visit and