Holly Spears grew up in the small town of Wana, West Virginia. Early on she sang in the church choir, school choirs, in musicals, and at festivals and fairs. She got her first guitar for $25 at a garage sale. She was discovered by the lead singer of Blessid Union of Souls, Eliot Sloan, and began touring with them and opening for the likes of The Spin Doctors and Gin Blossoms. In 2012 Holly put out the full length album HEARTACHE TO HOPE. She has also released three EP’s with the latest being BOOTS & BLING (2014, Girl on a Mission Music). She says: “BOOTS & BLING is my attempt to get back to my roots and embrace who I’ve grown into...I grew up as a tomboy, and when I moved away, I became more ‘girly’. Today, I’m a good mix of the two”. She is currently in Texas filming the faith-based film Nail 32. A press release says: “Just as 32 nails attach the shoes to a horse, Nail 32 clenches the importance of men being courageous, honorable, and truly God-fearing”. Some of Holly’s songs will be used in conjunction with the movie.
The first song on BOOTS & BLING is ‘Brothers’. It is one of five Holly wrote alone. This breezy country/pop tune is autobiographical: “I grew up in a little bitty town/On front street is where we built our house/With two brothers and the whole football team/I grew up a tomboy you see/Brothers-teach me what is right/Brothers-when am I supposed to fight?/Brothers-can I wear your clothes?/Brothers.../Brothers-teach me how to fish/Brothers-teach me how to spit/Brothers-teach me how to drive your car/Cause I just wrecked it”. ‘Cowboy Up’ is a modern country ballad that encourages males to be the best men they can be: “Be like the good book said to be/Do their best thinkin’ on their knees/Tell me, why don’t you, do the same thing, too.../Cowboy up, don’t back down/Stand your ground instead of fallin’ down/Be the kind of man you want to be/Cowboy up (2X)/And love like a father/Be good to your wife/Ask God to guide you/Every day of your life”.
A cover of Paula Cole’s thrice Grammy nominated 1996 song ‘Where Have All the Cowboys Gone’ is up next. It is a song of disappointment from a female perspective: “We finally sold the Chevy/When we had another baby/And you took that job in Tennessee/You made friends at the farm/And you joined them at the bar/Almost every single day of the week/I will wash the dishes while you go have a beer/Where is my John Wayne?/Where is my prairie son?/Where is my happy ending?/Where have all the cowboys gone?” ‘Sunshine’ is a tender country song that includes these touching remembrances: “Grandpa, I remember when I was really little and you’d play games with me/Grandpa, you would laugh and grin/And read my favorite stories/Then sing me fast asleep/You’d sing ‘My sunshine, you’re my only sunshine/And you make me happy when my skies are grey, hey’”.
‘Who Said’ is another quiet country song. This one is about chasing your dreams and finding yourself: “Small town girl wins three Grammy’s in a row/She finds herself always on the road/The girl she once knew is not the girl she knows/Well, who says you can’t go, you can’t go, you can’t go/Who said you can’t go, you can’t go/You can’t go home”. Next up is a cover of ‘Wide Open Spaces’ which Holly says was the theme song of her teen years. It was penned by Susan Gibson and made famous by Dixie Chicks in the late 1990’s. Holly’s version is more laid back. It is about spreading one’s wings: “She needs wide open spaces/Room to make her big mistakes/She needs new faces/She knows the high stakes/She knows the high stakes/She needs wide open spaces”.
‘With You’ is the song of a girl in love: “I can’t believe it/You tore my walls down/With all your sweetness/Your silliness, too/And I can’t wait/To spend my days/With you, with you/You make me laugh/You calm me down/You set me straight/When I’m in a mood”. Last up, is definitely the best cover song, ‘Country Roads’. John Denver recorded this folk/country classic on his 1971 album POEMS, PRAYERS AND PROMISES. It hit No 2 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It is a song of longing: “Country roads, take me home/To the place I belong/West Virginia, Mountain Mama/Take me home, my country roads/I hear her voice, in the morning hour she calls me/The radio reminds me of my home far away/And drivin’ down the road/I get the feeling/That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday”.
BOOTS & BLING was mixed and produced by Mitch Dane at Sputnik Sound in Nashville, TN. On it, two members of Jars of Clay, Stephen Mason and Charlie Lowell, play several instruments including: banjo, mandolin, bells, electric guitar, steel guitar, and synthesizer. In the album liner notes Holly writes: “God from whom ALL blessings flow. Thank You for making me the way you did and for surrounding me with LOVE”. BOOTS & BLING is a decent EP if you enjoy country music that tells stories and is on the more mellow side musically. Holly has a pleasant voice and is a good songwriter. I only hope on her next project she rocks out more, including more upbeat tracks that’ll get my feet moving. The cover photo of Holly as a cowgirl is pretty. I’m rating BOOTS & BLING 83%. For more info visit: www.hollyspears.com and www.nail32.com.