Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: Danika Holmes “Living Your Dream”

Two years ago, we were taken by the charming debut by Danika Holmes, an aspiring songstress from Iowa (review here). Holmes returns with a new release, “Living Your Dream”, this March. “Living Your Dream” was funded by fans through a Kickstarter campaign, which must have been pretty successful given the slick new look and sound of the record.

Holmes is a mix of heartland warmth and book smarts (she was a dissertation shy of earning a Ph.D.; she decided to write an album instead). These attributes carry through into the messages contained in her lyrics. Even more than on her debut, Holmes stretches herself into a diverse array of musical genres, incorporating more guitar-driven leads and even horns throughout several of the songs. To be honest, a part of me misses the more organic feel of her debut set. On “Living Your Dream”, the music has evolved to a glossier plane, and I am not certain it fits her voice as comfortably as her debut.

Nonetheless, Holmes demonstrates she is certainly capable of writing to suit many styles, reminding me of the versatile Shelby Lynne. Lyrically, and true to the album’s title, Holmes still shines as a beacon of hope and positivity. “Dreams Held Hostage” and “Bluebird” will undoubtedly be fan favorites, each a country-tinged tale that touches the heart as much as it tickles the ears. My personal favorite, though, is “How To Be Beautiful” – on this track, Holmes is at home in her comfort zone and backed by pleasing “oh la la” harmonies. From here on, Holmes will either confuse or delight with forays into other musical territory. “Rainy Day Lovin’” has a bit of a doo-wop and jazzy feel while “Someone New To Forget” sounds like an attempt to capitalize on the Adele craze. “Kids and Makeup” is sweet and simple bouncy pop. Holmes shines on a couple standout ballads this time around, including “Breathe In Let Go” and the sweeping title track. The ten song record closes with another highlight in “Forever Young”.

It should be easy to catch Holmes on tour this spring and summer, stateside or in Europe - she has a whopping 160 shows planned. In the meantime, you are sure to find something to love on “Living Your Dream”.

Danika Holmes – Official site.

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