The first thing I did when listening to Greg Holden’s new release Chase the Sun was to Tweet him about it. I found (and continue to find) his songwriting to be amazing. I had heard of Greg Holden and even liked one of his tracks on YouTube, but this Greg Holden… this new Chase the Sun version is incredible. I mean… stunning. This is an album of the year candidate for sure. It’s a little bit singer songwriter, a little bit pop, and a whole lot of emotionally-driven, inspiring music.
“Hold On Tight” is about embracing life and doing the best with who you are and what you’ve been given. It’s poppy and upbeat, powerful and party worthy. The soaring “don’t take your liiiiife for granted” lyric is one that I sing over and over, with the album and on my own. What makes it so inspiring is that it encourages listeners to embrace the temporality of earthly existence. It’s truth.
“Save Yourself” is a driving pop rock song. It sounds like something that is virtually timeless, worthy in any rock era. Equal parts 70s and 2000s, it’s a song about getting help and getting through life. It’s about self care as a way of making the world a better place. “You need to save yourself before you can save someone else…” Amen. In fact, I find myself saying “amen” to a lot of Holden’s thoughts in these songs.
“If you learn to trust what love can do you will find there’s more to life than you…” Seriously that’s the key lyric on a great track called “Bulletproof.” Holden mentions the messages of prophets and a few other loosely-religious messages here. But the sentiment is most definitely truth, emphasizing that true happiness comes from putting others before ourselves.
And then there’s “Boys in the Street.” What a song. It’s the kind of song that is going to be remembered for generations, honestly. It’s about a young man being verbally abused by his father for being gay. The slower, acoustic-driven delivery of the lyrics is sentimental and stunningly powerful. It even shows off Holden’s great accent. The evident emotionalism of the track is undeniable. It’s one of the most moving, authentic tracks out today. Oh… but listen to the whole thing. The ending is worth it.
“Give It Away” is one of my favorites on an album that I absolutely love. Holden delivers the lines with his characteristic sincerity, begging listeners to give up the things that hold us back. It’s about really living out a life of devotion to other people, without being entangled by materialism. He doesn’t want people making memes of his lyrics and merely thinking – he’s urging action here. “Just give it away… you don’t need it… just give it away… what’s the point of it…” As long as “it” isn’t this album, I’m totally game.
The title track “Go Chase the Sun” is another gem on a great album. It’s about inspiring people, again, to take action. But rather than minimalism, this one is about striving for big dreams while observing the little things in life. The internal juxtaposition of embracing life’s pursuits while enjoying the journey is nearly cliché, but ultimately deeply inspiring. The melodic piano accompaniment at the beginning is sweet, keeping the message of the song intimate. But then it takes off and feels more like the big venue “let’s all sing together” feeling befitting the song’s ultimate message.
Speaking of big venue chant jams, “Free Again” starts with the kind of “oh oh ohhs” that will make the woo girls happy. It’s also a kind of alt rock reflective piece that will find a lot of fans. It’s not totally clear of what he’s rid himself of, but it seems infinitely relatable; we could connect with addictions, bad relationships, or even a destructive lifestyle. It could be a real anthem for people trying to get clean, sober, or otherwise move on from dangerous circumstances. As with the rest of the album, it’s profoundly inspiring!
Taking a page out of Louis Armstrong’s titles (but not his music), “A Wonderful World” is a fascinating work of cultural criticism. Commenting on celebrity culture, over use of medication, blaming others, and much else, the song is about the lack of wisdom in the 21st century western world. It’s about reliance on technology, poisonous food, and meaningless life. The ironic “what a wonderful world” refrain is just… beautiful. The gang vocal is brilliant, just begging that we all join in, singing about how we’re destroying the world around us. Sheer brilliance.
“It’s All Come Out” is about self esteem and self perception. It responds to the individual story as a response to the previous track. But ultimately it is a story of perseverance, “it’ll all come out in the end.” The track is a bit more “soft rock” than others on the album, but the message is just as hard hitting in terms of how to live life. It’s about embracing the difficulties of life, seeing things through to the end no matter what.
Every time I hear “I Won’t Forget” I get butterflies in my stomach. This is not an exaggeration. The fingerpicking that opens the track introduces Holden’s gentle vocal perfectly. It’s a horribly tragic song about verbal abuse and a difficult father-son relationship. Although I’m blessed not to personally connect with this kind of relationship, the amount of Holden’s heart that pours out through the lyrics and delivery is both raw and exquisite. It’s perhaps his best artistry on an overwhelmingly phenomenal album. The gang vocals on the bridge and chorus shift from the sweetly-delivered verses so well. It’s such a relief to hear him sing, “I have finally found peace within. It is he who has to deal with his sins.” Amen, brother. (I legitimately feel like I know Holden after listening to this album so many times in the past few weeks.)
Now the final track comes with a genre shift. Holden’s impactful songwriting style is still evident, but it’s much more of a jangly folk kind of song than the rest of the album. So of course I love. “The Next Life” is about the hope of the next life… and isn’t that just the perfect way to end an inspiring and hopeful album? “Don’t worry darlin’… please don’t cry… I’ll still be fallin’ for you so find me in the next life.” What a concept! It also features a female vocal that’s also on point. The harmonies, the loose string ensemble, and the party atmosphere all come together for the most amazing ending to a superb album.
Honestly, I may have run out of positive adjectives. If it’s not evident by this point, I firmly believe that this is a MUST OWN album for most readers who like my taste in music. Holden’s songwriting is next level and the songs are all likeable. It has taken me a few weeks to process just how much I love his album. I really really hope I get to interview him some day. But until that day, I’ll be enjoying his inspiring lyrics. I’ll keep chasing the sun with this blog… and hope you all will continue to join along, allowing great philosopher, poet, singer songwriters like Greg Holden to help us on the way.