Prime Cuts: Butterfly, The Love of the Lord Endures, It is Well
Listening to Julie Elias' new album "Home" is like having coffee with a seasoned counsellor steeped in the Word of God pulsating with a heart that bleeds in love for others. Never coming across as cocky or aloof, Elias has just right words; often conveyed with earnestness and sensitivity. "Unbroken" is that type of an album that doesn't just exist to entertain. Rather, it's a treasury of wisdom garnered from a woman who has been through the brunt of pain and sufferings. While her former record "Heaven Rain Down" was a vertically directed worship record, "Unbroken" has antennas both directed vertically as well as horizontally. Though there are a few songs made for congregational worship, the rest of the songs are directed to traffic our lives with the truths of God as contained in Holy Writ. In this regard, it is worthwhile purchasing the physical CD of this album as opposed to its digital counterpart, as Elias has Scripture verses cited underneath the lyrics of each cut.
Elias studied music theater in college, the California native never envisioned a career as a singer, choosing, instead, to move to Los Angeles to pursue acting. She quickly secured roles in popular TV series, such as "Grey's Anatomy" and "CSI: NY," as well as in films with the likes of Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. The success she found in Hollywood, however, left her unfulfilled. Thus, she began pursuing a singing career with her debut album "A Wild Rose" ensuing. "Unbroken" continues on where "A Wild Rose" left off. It's a potpourri of pop styles that Elias has drawn from artists such as Kerrie Roberts, Carrie Underwood, Francesca Battistelli and Kelly Clarkson. As a result, this album is energetic and engaging in its propulsive burners, yet heartfelt and emotional in its ballads.
Lead single "Home" is pop-centric enterprise that has a strong radio presence. "Home" isn't just a nostalgic sentimental piece. Rather, it's a call to return to our Savior in our most trying times and learn what it means to find rest in the yoke of our Master. Tearing a page out of her own diary is the title cut "Unbroken." Recalling Kelly Clarkson's earlier pop endeavors "Unbroken" bristles with an ear grabbing melody underscoring a message that God is never done with us. "The Choice" takes the varnish off the polished pop sheen. A delightful rock n' roll piece with a staccato bass line, "The Choice" speaks about making Godly decisions. With Elias' ministry with troubled teenage girls, "I Will Love Again" and "Butterfly" offer Godly sisterly advice on romance and self-image respectively.
Resurrected by the songs in her former record "Love Rain Down" is the worship leader in Elias. And for fans who have loved Elias when she lifts up her soul to Jesus, her cover of Joy Williams' (that is before her Civil Wars foray) "The Love of the Lord Endure" is a gem. Featuring a piano backing, and when Elias sings, "If there's one thing I can be sure/It's the love of the Lord endures" you can't help but keep your Kleenex close by. Her rendition of Bethel Live's "It is Well" is another apex. Intimate, thoughtful, and brimming with the Spirit's presence, you can't help worshipping along.
If you are looking for songs that address the issues of life with palatable wisdom from a woman who has lived out these songs, "Unbroken" is the album to get.