CD Review: Danika Holmes “Second Chances”

Danika Holmes - Second Chances

“Second Chances” is the debut CD from Danika Holmes, a singer/songwriter from Iowa. Holmes has had some tough breaks in life but tries to squeeze those lemons into lemonade through her music. Her songs are packed full of emotions that parallel many women’s lives (and some men too!). As she says, “Women are emotional beings. We feel love, sadness, hope, loneliness…we feel everything”. She really wants you to take something meaningful away from her songs.

Holmes has a voice that is gentle as a breeze – perfectly suited for when she tries to empathize her lyrics. I imagine she is a great shoulder to cry on, but also imagine she cries a lot on someone else’s shoulder. She makes good use of harmony vocals – so good that I wish they were more abundant throughout the record. Musically, “Second Chances” bounces all over the map, but the thread that ties it altogether is that welcoming tone in her voice.

“Second Chances” begins with one of its strongest cuts, a straightforward pop rock/country tune called “Half As Strong As You”. This is one of the tracks where Holmes sounds most comfortable and I was expecting a CD full of radio-friendly nuggets like this tune. But from here, Holmes heads into K.T. Tunstall territory with “Unlit Match” and then veers into a sultry jazz sound with “You Make A Bad Day Good”. She then creeps into folk territory by going back to her singer/songwriter roots with a tender ode to granny called “Annie May”. I enjoyed this track quite a bit – in addition to being a moving tribute, the song is a bit of a history lesson and achieves her goal to leave you with something meaningful to contemplate.

Before long, Holmes is back in fifth gear with an energetic country rock jam called “Lock Me In Tonight”, which reminds me of Shania Twain. “If You Love Me Just Say It” is a quirky little folk song, but undeniably charming and catchy – ukulele and all. What this record needs now is…oh, wait, here it is…the sweeping ballad, “Sounds Like Goodbye”. This song is notable because it is well structured and heartfelt, with Holmes turning in one of her more confident vocal performances. “Time For A Change” digs down into the realm of classic country and blues, sounding like something June Carter may have done. “Pockets Full Of Gold” is a simple acoustic piece that shines in melody, production, and lyrical content – this is another type of song where Holmes sounds most at home.

Fans of Chrissy Coughlin, Sheryl Crow, or Jewel need to give “Second Chances” a chance.

iPOD-worthy: 1, 4, 6, 7, 9

Danika Holmes on MySpace. Official site.