Holly Starr, singer, songwriter, and touring artist, is set to release her third studio project, Focus, on October 2nd (Save The City Records/Provident Distribution). Focus was produced by Chris Stevens (TobyMac, Mandisa, Jamie Grace), David Garcia (Group 1 Crew) and Chuck Butler (Royal Tailor).
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Focusing On God| Posted September 11, 2012
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."
Closing Thoughts 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.
reply| Posted May 11, 2015
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There I was, surfin' the Net, researching for a feature story that I was writing. I'd navigated to YouTube and thought that I had clicked on a video for one of Francesca Battistelli's latest. But a few seconds into the song, I realized that it wasn't Francesca. It was actually "Don't Have Love" by twenty-one-year-old, singer/songwriter, Holly Starr. "Holy cow," I said to myself. "This is absolutely incredible! But that stage name is kinda cheesy." Oops, as it turns out, Holly Starr is her real name. No, really. In short order, I located her website, as I simply had to have her record.
Starr's story is a cool one. After posting a couple of tunes on MySpace(Yeah, I'd forgotten too.) a few years ago, the Washington farm girl was spotted by producer Brandon Bee. Under Bee's guidance, Starr's debut release Embraced arrived in 2008. Produced by Dove Award-winner Rusty Varenkamp, her sophomore record Tapestry was released in 2010. During that time, she toured the U.S. — playing some of the largest Christian music festivals. And in October 2012, Starr released her latest, Focus — an infectious ten-song set produced by Chris Stevens, David Garcia and Chuck Butler.
Fresh, snappy, catchy, poppy — HOORAY — all of my fave adjectives apply to this one!
Starr's voice is delightfully unique and her harmonies are impeccable — layers and layers (and layers) of amazing, tight harmonies. And combining the vocal delicateness of JJ Heller with the lyrical transparency of Sara Groves, Focus is light years ahead of most records on today's Christian pop market.
Having co-written all ten tracks, Starr succeeds where many of her contemporaries fall short. In fact, these days, the Jesus-factor gets so buried beneath mountains of ambiguity that I'm often unsure as to whether the typical "Johnny Poptart" is singing about the King of Kings or the King of Beers. Hence, Starr scores big, in that I didn't have to invest any time discerning her message — it's perfectly clear. And that message is ALL about glorifying JESUS CHRIST!
Based on Proverbs 3:5-6, "Let Go" is one of the best of the batch. It's a bona fide earworm and completely on-point... No, there's nothing I own. All You've designed so beautifully sewn. Oh please, help me let go. 'Cause You're in control.
In the musical vein of Maroon 5, "This Love" is another engaging highlight... By His body broken, the grave is opened up. Hope is only found in what He's done. Our sin has been erased. Our God has saved the day. We are forever changed because of this love, this love.
The record's lead single, "Don't Have Love," is a modern retelling of Corinthians 13. Co-written with Chris Stevens, it is simply one of the finest pop tunes I've heard in a (very) long time... Love's never selfish. Love's never vain. Love doesn't criticize. Love doesn't blame. From the beginning, through every age, love is the one thing that's never gonna change.
Of the title track, Starr says, "Not only do I want to focus on God in terms of devotion and spending time in the Word, I want to be able to do that as I'm walking through every day"... Lord I really need to stop right now — stop now and focus on you. Even with the chaos all around — I'll stop now and focus on you.
Written by Star and Michael Fordinal, "Satisfied" is another catchy, true blue gem — perhaps the record's crowning jewel... You're the only one who brings my heart to life. You're the only one I know who can provide, joy all my days. Though the earth fades away, you stand the test of time. You leave me satisfied.
Almost hymn-like, "Grace for All" is a collaboration between Starr and David Moffitt. Honest and pure, it makes for an incredible and moving record closer... I will remember the heavy cross where Jesus bled and died. When no one else could pay the cost through death, he bought me life. He knew the greatness of my fall, still he broke down every wall. All my sins are washed away. He has grace for all. 'NUFF SAID!
Okay, so Holly Star is amazing, and Focus is a fun, high-energy record filled with well-crafted pop songs and loads of Jesus factor — but honestly, is it really a "perfect" record? Well, yes. IT ABSOLUTELY IS!
Found!| Posted October 10, 2012
I was searching for a album for my girlfried, and wiht joy i can say: i found!
The guitar with a sweet voice of Holly Star combine so well, that my girl liked alll of the musics in the album "FOCUS". I'm very happy by found this artist, and i wisn that God keep blessing! lol
Holly STar| Posted September 28, 2012
Great sound and great meaning to her music. Awesome new artist. Glad to see another new artist out there giving praises to god. hope to see more of her in the future. hope she gets more air time. ill definetly request her at our station
Great Album, Nuff Said| Posted September 28, 2012
Great pop music, catchy hooks and melodies, with positive and worshipful lyrics. I'm a guy so I'm really critical about female vocalists because I've grown up listening to male vocalists in all the rock bands I've listened to. I will go out on a limb and say that because girls can belt and have the ability to hit those high notes, doesn't mean the should. Belting and forcing vocals is the number one turn off for female vocalts for me. But that's not the case with Holly, she has a soothing voice and stays withing her comfortable range most of the time so when she does try for those high notes, it sounds good. All this to say, this is a great album by a very talented singer/song writer
Wow.| Posted September 25, 2012
I am completely blown away by Holly Starr's new CD, "Focus!" I can't wait to receive my copy in the mail in just one week! Holly Starr is one of the most amazing women I have ever met. I look up to her so much. GAHH! I can't wait!
Lovely| Posted September 25, 2012
I have been a fan of Holly Starr since her 2nd album came out and this one was just as good as that one, if not better. I really enjoyed the dance feel of lots of the songs but my favorites were definitely Focus and Grace For All. I love the thoughtfulness that she puts into her lyrics and into her musicality.
Well done, Holly!
Best so far from Holly| Posted September 25, 2012
Focus is definitely Holly's best album so far. With important messages in easy to follow rhymes, each song is both catchy and well-grounded in the gospel message. Holly's passion for the Lord is very evident in her music and lyrics. This is definitely a young artist to keep following and she matures and continues turning out great music!!