Greg Holden – Chase The Sun
Much has been written on this website about Greg Holden by yours truly – and for good reason: so few artists have moved me so emotionally and spiritually as he has, cementing a permanent place in my musical lexicon that so many others are referenced against. Last summer I interviewed Holden before a show in New Jersey and found him to be gracious and generous with his time; and later that night during his set – where he played two of the songs that would make their way on to his new album, Chase The Sun, out now on Warner Brothers Records – he was that same person I had spoken with earlier, belting his way through 6 emotionally-driven songs, not a false note to be found.
Is all of this praise maybe a touch too lofty? – maybe. Do I stand by it after listening to Chase The Sun? – absolutely.
No discussion of Chase The Sun can really begin without first mentioning the album that preceded it – 2011’s, I Don’t Believe You (re-released in 2013). Says Holden about that album, “My last album was brutally honest, but I was very much pointing the finger in the wrong direction… I was projecting my problems onto everybody else. I guess I just realized that was not a good way to be.” It’s with that knowledge that Holden’s transformative work on Chase The Sun is all the more impressive. Where I Don’t Believe You was more emotional and dark at times (see “The American Dream” and “Empty Hands” for examples of the latter), Chase The Sun is deeply spiritual and powerfully uplifting – due in no small part to a life-changing trip to India and Nepal.
From the openers “Hold On Tight” and “Save Yourself”, it’s easy to see where Holden’s head is. The chorus to “Save Yourself” does a perfect job of summing-up the “new” Holden:
You’ve gotta save yourself
So you can find a way to save someone else
It won’t make any difference if we don’t all help
We all need help
The album’s nine remaining songs never stray too far from this, with “Give It Away” and “It’ll All Come Out” providing their own charge for the complexities of navigating everyday life. Breaking from the mold a bit are the softer, piano-led “Go Chase The Sun”, and the Americana-inspired “The Next Life” (which features exceptional vocal support from Garrison Starr).
And finally, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t mention the inclusion of “Boys In The Street” – originally recorded for Everyone Is Gay’s, The Gayest Compilation Ever Made, vol. 2 – the sheer thought of its performance from last summer still gives me chills to this day.
The late Jim Valvano spoke of three things we should do everyday: “Number one is laugh. Number two is think – spend some time in thought. Number three, you should have your emotions move you to tears. If you laugh, think, and cry – that’s a heck of a day.” Listening to Chase The Sun, I can’t help but cycle through Valvano’s tenets – and I’ll be damned if that’s not what music is supposed to do in the first place.