Review: Ellie Holcomb – Canyon


Let us go down to the river to pray. Ellie Holcomb’s new album is here, and it feels like a gulp of fresh water on a hot summer day. Amidst the struggles and the negativity brought about by the pandemic and the social climate, “Canyon” is a unifying cry from the heart. The upbeat melodies are not groundbreakingly original, but they are pleasant and catchy enough to be worth listening to. However, the real treat in the Nashville-born singer’s third album are the lyrics. With recurring themes of light, hope, and healing, the album feels like an old friend talking to you when you feel down. Ellie Holcomb’s beautiful and slightly broken voice is the perfect channel to reach out to beautiful and slightly broken human beings.

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Listening to “Canyon”, the title track, feels like lighting a candle in the dark. “There in my deepest ache you are whispering that the cracks of my broken heart will let you in”. Broken doesn’t mean useless or finished. For Ellie, it’s an opportunity to grow and to welcome new love in one’s life. Layered over a lively melody, her warm voice invites every one of us to pay attention to the river of love and life that runs even through the deepest and darkest parts of ourselves. Al Green called it “positive attitude”, Ellie Holcomb calls it “a river running through”.

Love is also ever-present in “Mine”, a song she sings with Drew Holcomb, her husband of fifteen years. They join forces to sing an open love letter to their three children. Their voices work stunningly well side by side and it’s quite hard not to be moved by the message of unconditional love and support they are sharing with their family: “It wasn’t when you got it right, I was cheering all the time, I will be ‘til the end”. Parenting goals!

Another leitmotif of the album is Ellie Holcomb’s relationship with Jesus and God. Throughout her songs, she seeks comfort from her sorrows and burdens in that relationship. In “Constellations”, she sings “Tell me that I’m not alone, ‘cause honestly I’m so alone, so promise me I’m not alone”, and in “I Don’t Want To Miss It”, she sings “Your touch is the warmth of sun, Your touch is the lingering kind, I’m a child reaching up, put Your hand in mine, swing me around, I want to fly”. Her warm and powerful voice gives it a gospel feel, calling out to all those who feel a little lost and need solace to get through difficult times. Her words uplift the spirits and elevate the soul.

Holcomb’s new album is not musically revolutionary. In fact, its melodies, although well crafted, are as classic as it gets. But it still feels like a splash of healing waters: refreshing, uplifting, and hopeful. “Canyon” urges us to mend our divisions (“If you want to cross over this great divide, if you long for a day that doesn’t feel like night, if you’re searching for answers that you cannot find, build a bridge, build a bridge to the other side”), to replace fear and mistrust with love and compassion (“You were made for love, the worry whispers lie, but let the truth ring clear, you are stronger, love, you are stronger than your fear”), and to reach out to each other (“I will carry you through your darkest night, when you’re terrified, I will carry you, when the waters rise, when your hope runs dry, I will carry you”). Whenever you feel down, lost, or broken, “Canyon” is the perfect pick-me-up. More than a studio album, Ellie Holcomb offers us a musical hug.

Written by Camille Hourtane

Camille is a bilingual freelance writer with an unending passion for storytelling. She writes pieces in English and in French, with an emphasis on food/travel/society articles and fantasy/gothic/supernatural stories. She likes nothing more than to explore new places, whether in body or in mind.

Author’s rating for Canyon

Pop Magazine’s official rating for Canyon

Rating key
MASTERPIECE a must-have
SUPERB for heavy rotation
EXCELLENT a great achievement
VERY GOOD a respectable result
GOOD worth checking out
FAIR an average outcome
WEAK not convincing stuff
BAD an underwhelming effort
VERY BAD quite a waste
FAIL a total failure

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