In every season, there’s always an intrinsic longing for something more… We dream of something new, someplace fresh or someone different. It’s human nature to never quite be satisfied, but oftentimes, our desires are merely proof that we have gaps in our souls only God can fill. It’s a lesson Holly Starr is learning every day and one she’s anxious to share on her fourth studio release, Everything I Need (Artist Garden Entertainment).
“If there is one lesson I can pick out that God has taught me over the past two years, it’s that in our lives, we all have longings and desires and things that we feel like we are missing [in] life, so we spend a lot of our time trying to master fulfilling those longings and desires,” the singer/songwriter explains. “For some of us, it’s a relationship; for some of us, it’s a job; for some of us, it’s a higher position…but in the end, the thing we ultimately desire is God. He is everything we need.”
At only 24, it would appear Starr has everything she needs and then some, having already achieved what many young girls only dream of. She’s garnered two Top 25 singles at radio for “Don’t Have Love” and “Through My Father’s Eyes,” an impressive feat for an independent artist. In addition, the music videos for both singles are each approaching 1 million views on YouTube. Starr has also become a mainstay at high-profile Christian festivals each summer, including Creation and Lifest. While her credentials are impressive, she’s the first to admit her music has only gotten better with life experience.
For Everything I Need, Starr brings years of polished songwriting to the table. “I feel like the more I write, the more I know what I want to say and how to say it,” she reasons. The album reflects the personal growth she’s experienced over the last few years. That maturity has partially been influenced by falling in love. Starr is getting married this fall, and while her new husband hasn’t directly resulted in any new material yet, the next season of life is sure to inspire numerous lyrics and melodies in the future.
While Everything I Need offers a more self-assured viewpoint, the overarching vision for her music has been the same since Starr first began writing songs for her youth group in her hometown of Quincy, Washington. “Since [He] gave [this gift of music] to me, I’ve had this passionate desire to direct people to God,” she shares. “My mission statement is very simple—it’s to lead people to Him.”
Everything I Need is full of the signature pop sensibilities and vulnerable ballads Starr has honed since her debut in 2008, but the project, on the whole, takes an intentional slant toward worship.
“I feel like before I started [this album], God put the word worship on my heart as something to aim for, and obviously it’s not a full-on corporate worship album, but I wanted the spirit of it to be worshipful and just something you can stick in your car and be reminded of who God is,” Starr offers. “I feel like this one intentionally creates intimate conversation between [the listener] and God.”
The album marks the first time Starr has collaborated with award-winning producers Scott and Ed Cash (Chris Tomlin, Kari Jobe). “Working with both of them was an incredible experience,” she says. “Scott knows how to really encourage you when you’re in the studio… [He] has a special way of encouraging your strengths, and I really appreciate that because there are a lot of things I fear when I go in the studio, like Am I ready to record a new album? Are my songs good enough?… He keeps it really honest and real, and I just love that.”
Scott also had a hand in co-writing several of the album’s cuts with Starr, including lead single “Never Going Back,” a song that came unexpectedly in the studio.
“We were actually going to record [another] song that was already written that day,” Starr recalls. “We came in and sat down, and this song fell right out of the sky.” She adds that the heaven-sent track speaks to her personally and concisely paints the before and after picture of a transformed life.
Everything I Need also includes a couple of songs written and produced by Chris Stevens (Tobymac, Mandisa)
“When God is part of your life and the Holy Spirit comes into your heart, He changes you. That’s the mark of following Jesus—a changed life,” Starr contends. “I am never going to go back to that person I was—not because I can’t, because there are definitely times where I can be tempted and do fall into old patterns—but even if I do, I’m not the same [person] I was when I was in the middle of the struggle…before the healing came.”
Other songs on Everything I Need were inspired by the tragedies and triumphs of close friends. A childhood friend of Starr’s met her father for the first time in 26 years, and the singer/songwriter had a front row seat to the reunion. While the experience of seeing the two finally connect was emotional, it was all the years leading up to the meeting that formed the basis for “In My Father’s Love.”
“I’ve been writing that song for so long I don’t even know when I started writing it,” recounts Starr. “I wrote the verse two, maybe closer to three, years ago… Seeing her wrestle with that throughout the years has been a challenge to me. I got to watch her place her trust in God to be her father, and that has been such a beautiful thing for me to see… I want to have that kind of faith in God. He’s my Father, and even if I don’t have a dad, even if I don’t have a mom, even if I don’t have a husband, I will trust in God to [fill those roles] for me.”
“Forever Faithful” was also inspired by a close set of family friends who experienced a time of personal upheaval. Their circumstances left Starr reeling and wondering who she could really trust, while digging up deep-rooted issues that she’s battled since she was young.
“My entire life, trust has been something I struggle with, and I talk about that in my concerts pretty often,” she remarks. “I probably [attach] heavy expectations to people without really knowing it, and I was just let down. It turned my whole world upside down.”
The situation also made her resolve stronger. “I want to have a faithful character from a very deep part of who I am,” she says. “I want to be a representative of Him in this world.”
No matter the circumstance, Starr has found God to be faithful in all seasons, and she’s relishing in the freedom that comes from looking to Christ to be her everything. She’s not looking to her husband, her friends or her music career to fill that void; and that’s what keeps her honest, confident and moving forward in faith. “God has just continued to remind me that no matter what happens, I can desire everything in the world, but the only thing that will truly fulfill me in anything here is Him,” she concludes. “He is the end, and He is the means, and He is everything in between.”