Released June 23, 2009
4 min, 24 sec
I knew Skylar Grey before she was cool.
Now, before you angrily close the tab you’re reading this in, hear me out.
Skylar Grey came to prominence as a featured artist in 2010, first appearing on the track “Coming Home” by Diddy-Dirty Money. (Remember them? No? It’s okay, no one remembers the dumb crap Diddy does nowadays.) She was also the writer behind “Love the Way You Lie,” by Rihanna and Eminem. Now that’s a title you’ll recognize – she won a Grammy for it.
After that, she appeared on a few more tracks, such as Dr. Dre and Eminem’s “I Need a Doctor,” and Lupe Fiasco’s track “Words I Never Said” from his album Lasers. Eventually, she announced that she’d be recording a solo album, which was eventually released in 2013 as Don’t Look Down. We’ll take a look at that one in a few months.
But, for now, we’re dealing with Holly Brook. Who’s Holly Brook, you ask? Well, those four paragraphs up there might give you a clue.
Holly Brook, Skylar Grey’s original stage name, was a singer-songwriter that rose to prominence through her feature on Fort Minor’s 2005 hit “Where’d You Go,” where she provided vocals for the chorus. Piggybacking on the bit of exposure that track gave her, she released her only solo album as Holly Brook, Like Blood, Like Honey. She followed that up with an EP in 2010, O’Dark:Thirty, and promptly dropped off the map, resuming her career later that year with all the stuff you saw at the beginning of this post.
We’ll get to this track, I promise.
So, Holly is one of those artists whose body of work mostly ended up being a victim of the non-permanence of the Internet. Much of her work outside of Like Blood, Like Honey is simply impossible to find. Some of it was on MySpace, some of it was on OurStage, some of it on Bandcamp. None of those pages exist any more.
Some of it is still around – “All I Want is Love” is one of them, available on Amazon to this day, primarily by virtue of being on a random compilation album.
I know a lot about Holly Brook because I really loved her work in this early stage of her career, and spent a stupid amount of time trying to grab up every bit of music I could find. There was a point where I realized that I didn’t care as much as I thought, and, in a true moron move, dumped a lot of it, never to find any of it again. My collection of her music is a shadow of what it used to be, though my documentation of Skylar Grey’s music is still as complete as it will ever be. I’ve still got a bunch of random tracks like this one in my library, though, so those will be a nice trip down memory lane when I reach them.
So, the song. No, first, the album.
Though the album is listed as just being a single in my library, because that’s how I bought it, the song is actually part of a compilation titled Listen. It’s hard for me to find info on it – it was produced by the Our Time Theatre Company, and it is touted as being an album featuring songs written by children with stuttering issues – these songs were then recorded by professional artists. Brook collaborated on this track with Duncan Sheik, a musician she worked with in a play in 2009 and also on O’Dark:Thirty, and the cast of Spring Awakening, a musical written by Duncan Sheik.
On to the track itself. It’s an interesting choice on a number of levels. First off, it certainly sounds like a Holly Brook song – lamenting about a lack of love. It seems particularly brutal when you know that a child wrote it, probably as a direct response to being bullied for having a problem with stuttering.
On the other hand, Spring Awakening is a play about teenagers discovering their sexuality in 19th-century Germany, featuring themes of child abuse, rape, and suicide, among other things. I sure hope the kid that wrote this song didn’t see the play.
Overall, it’s a decent track – Brook turns in some great vocals, Duncan Sheik and Spring Awakening‘s cast do work in the background, and the instrumentation is suitably heavy with lamentation. Simplistic lyrics, to be sure, but, again, a kid wrote this. Whoever they are, they did a good job.
Hopefully, they’ve been dealt a better hand in life after writing this song. Or, at least, got a decent paycheck from royalties.