JJ Heller: Painted Red


You know you’re in for a great night of music when the first half of the show features Square Peg Alliance members Jeremy Casella, Andy Osenga, and Andrew Peterson playing in the round. That’s how the release show for the last album from JJ Heller, The Pretty and the Plain, started out. And the album lived up to the expectations set by that evening. I bought more copies of The Pretty and the Plain to give away as gifts than I did any other CD last year.

paintedred.jpgAnd the lyrics to the bridge of Why Is It Colder came up more than once in conversation: Love is a danger / it can make you let your guard down / but if you are never broken / you will never be made whole.  Painted Red is the new release from JJ and Dave (her husband, songwriting partner, and guitar player), and has been available on their website as a free download for the past two months. It has already been downloaded over 13,000 times, and will be up for a couple more weeks, until the end of the month, after which you will be able to buy it from their website.

On Painted Red, JJ and Dave continue exploring the themes they’ve touched on in their earlier projects, as the opening lines of the first song on the album, “Save Me”, attest: Living / am I really living / or am I just existing / hiding away // Danger / the world is full of danger / but if I never try to go outside / my heart will waste away // Come and save me / You’re the only / source of all the peace I need / come and save me / come and save me. They’ve co-written with a couple other songwriters this time around, including Andy Osenga and Katie Herzig, resulting in a solid collection of songs.

I dropped by the studio one July afternoon for a couple hours while they were recording, and, reading through some of the lyrics, what stood out to me were the opening lines to “Back Home”: Don’t let your eyes get used to darkness / the light is coming soon. / Don’t let your heart get used to sadness / put your hope in what is true.  But I think my favorite lyrics on the album are the closing words, the very last line in the last song “Painted Red”, written by JJ. It’s a short song, only 2:13, and the last 50 seconds of that is just “ooh-ing,” with Andy Osenga joining Dave and JJ, sans instruments, for the last :26 seconds. The last thing you hear before it begins to wind down is “Hope means holding on to You, grace means You’re holding me too”.

Indeed. “Hope means holding on to You, grace means You’re holding me too.”

Here’s the link where you can download Painted Red before the end of the month. Go download your copy and tell your friends. And be sure to check out JJ’s blog, The Lovely Little Things, for music and touring news, posts about JJ’s sewing projects, and stories about their new baby, due in a couple of weeks.


  1. Chris

    I’ve loved JJ’s stuff for a couple years, but unfortunately she’s mostly toured on the WC so I haven’t had the opportunity to see her live. I’m hoping that some new found success might help her tour nationally…like with possible a few certain square pegs we all know and love.

  2. Aaron Roughton

    I had not heard of JJ Heller before this post. But like most recommendations made here in the Rabbit Room, I checked it out and was not disappointed. I have been listening to it all day, and I recommended that my wife do the same. Thanks for letting us know about this artist!

  3. April

    Wow– thank you so much for the recommendation! I had never heard of JJ Heller but I downloaded the album and it’s beautiful!

  4. RM Peters

    Thank you so much for introducing me to another great artist! “I am not my scars and my history…I am who I am….I believe, help my unbelief” This should be my daily prayer!

  5. jeremy

    thanks for this! i had never heard of her music before, but did the free download and have been so impressed so far. peace.

  6. Peter B

    Thanks from yet another formerly-ignorant listener! I don’t have a blog, but the word is going out by Facebook (after the response to my Chuck Baldwin support tag, I KNOW people are watching).

  7. Stephen Lamb


    I realized that I didn’t say much about the music side of the album, so here are a couple comments:

    It was produced by Mitch Dane (Jars of Clay, Bebo Norman), who they’ve worked with on their previous 3 albums. Dave Heller played the acoustic guitar parts, Andy Osenga played electric guitar, and Cason Cooley (The Normals, Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken) played keys and B3 organ.

    Dave and JJ had been talking about making an album that was mostly acoustic, and this was the result. Their previous albums they’ve done with Mitch, while not drastically different, are a little more filled out production-wise.

  8. Chris

    I’m excited that you guys are excited about JJ! I got hooked by her album “Only Love Remains”…highly recommend! If you’d like to learn “more” about JJ and Dave, they’ve got a YouTube Channel (shocking I know) where they post a lot of funny personal stuff for fans.

  9. Mike

    Thanks Stephen for the Post. and thanks JJ for the free download. This is the first time I’ve heard JJ’s music but I’m hooked already. The thing I love about SP musicians are that they write deep enough for us older folks to appreciate but cool enough for my 18 year old daughter. She’s going to love this.

  10. Christopher Hopper

    Cleaned my office to it all day (yes, takes me quite a while to clean my office…more so when there is good music on).

    Thanks for making such a wonderful collection of songs, JJ! And thanks for letting us all know, Stephen.


  11. Allison

    Thanks for the heads-up! How have I missed hearing about the Hellers before now? And thanks for the link to her blog, too — I adore what she’s done with heir daughter’s nursery!

If you have a Rabbit Room account, log in here to comment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.