Emerging from the unwanted cocoon of the pandemic, we are all looking for light and hope. Fortunately, Ellie Holcomb’s third studio album Canyon is a welcome arrival into a dispirited world. Truly the freshest subgenres in Christian music right now are hip-hop and Americana, and Holcomb effectively draws on her sizeable talent and support from her husband Drew and Bear Rinehart of NEEDTOBREATHE among others to add to the latter category with a more pop-oriented feel.
In explaining the title song, Holcomb said that the inspiration came from a trip to the Grand Canyon. The canyon is a perfect metaphor for our time with brokenness and division, but with a river running through it that brings refreshment and renewal. Although not reflected in the lyrics, she also mentions the contrast of the brightness of the stars when in the dark depths of a canyon. These stars are the hope that we have with our faith in Christ as we are struggling with the darkness and despair that seems to surround us. She continues that message in the song, “I Will Carry You” where the echoes of the past year and the rock of our risen Savior are brought out in an incredibly powerful way:
“I know you’re tired, I see it in your eyes All that anxiety that rules your mind I’ll be your shield when you don’t feel Like you’ve got strength enough to fight I’ll stand by your side”.
Another standout is the song “Mine” which is exquisitely arranged and has some of the most powerful lyrics on the album. It should resonate strongly with new parents, or old for that matter. The chorus of “Before I held you, I knew I loved you, Before I saw you, I was sold out for you”, works as both a parent’s lullaby to their child and God’s message to us. Other especially strong efforts include: “Sweet Ever After” where Ellie collaborates with Bear Rinehart of NEEDTOBREATHE and “Stronger” which is an uplifting pop gem.
Canyon is one of those albums that might require several listens to pick up some of the lyrical and musical nuances, but I highly recommend this album. It’s especially relevant as we move into a summer season after passing through an especially dark season.