Julie Elias’ bio states: “Appearing regularly on shows like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘CSI: NY’ and even in films with the megastars like Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts made for some great experiences but left her empty in the long term”. So, Julie ended up going into music ministry. Her debut album A WILD ROSE came out in 2012. She followed it up in 2014 with the worship project LOVE RAIN DOWN. Julie’s latest album is UNBROKEN (2015). Of it she says: “I created this CD to have a special connection to teen girls and as a companion piece to my Aurora Conferences, day-long events that focus on building self-esteem among girls in grades six through 12”. Julie’s musical influences include: Sara Bareilles, Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Bethel Music.
Starting things off is ‘Burning Bright’, a pleasant sounding adult contemporary song written by Julie, Sarah Mentzer, and Casey Roberts. It is meant to encourage us when we are going through hard times: “Jesus, sent for us/Light of the world/Brilliance through the night/Victory revealed/The light shines in the darkness/The darkness will not overcome/You won’t be defeated/The Savior has already won/Don’t be afraid/Stand in His strength/Shine a light/Burning bright”. CCM veteran Al Denson co-wrote the Christian pop song ‘Home’ with Julie. It is the album’s first single and speaks of God’s enduring faithfulness to us: “In the greatest storms You guide me/In the darkest place You find me, so why do I even try to hide?/In my weakness You have held me/In my heartbreak You will heal me/Always right by my side/Need to get rid of my blinders/Needing a reminder where I go from here/Dropping my distractions/Focusing my actions/Conquering my fears/Heading home”.
The title track ‘Unbroken’ is one of four songs solely written by Julie. It is a cool sounding rock song with neat vocal effects. It reminds us just where our true identity lies: “Putting back the pieces/Straightening the creases/Trust it all to Jesus/’Cuz I know where my hope is/I am His and He is mine/Unbroken/Unfrozen/I let the damaged pieces lie/Unshaken/Not forsaken/I’m held by love I can’t deny/I’m forever strengthened/Confirmed by grace from Heaven/Beyond all comprehension/You’ve given me redemption/Deliver me!” ‘Butterfly’ is a tender ballad addressed to everyone who struggles with self-esteem: “Butterfly, fly away/Always on display/With a beauty and a grace that’s all your own/When so many stop and stare/It’s easy to compare/But no one else is quite like you/Though you feel alone/Lost among the stars/You’re so much more than what they say you are/Oh, butterfly, guard your heart/Know that you’re a work of art.../Show the world your heart today”.
‘I Will Love Again’ offers hope to those experiencing heartache and heartbreak: “There is no reason to this rhyme/There is no easy fix this time/The hourglass is empty but it’s not broken/Nor am I/It’s not the last lesson I’ll learn/Yet I can’t help but feel it burn/When smoke of sadness is rising/I’ll wipe the stinging from my eyes/Cuz this won’t be my story’s end/A chapter’s done but there’s no damsel in distress/And this won’t be my only chance/To see a childhood dream finally come true/I will love again (2X)”. ‘Stop Before I Start’ warns of the power of the tongue: “Like an untamed horse that’s reeling/Wild and carefree/My momentary weakness/Unleashed an ugly me/What was only for a second caused a life to change for worse/And I can’t believe I caused all this with just some careless words/I need to stop/And breathe/Nothing else needs to be said/Let the silence fall like rain/My hurting heart will heal/Won’t cause others pain/I’ll let it go and stop before I start”.
‘The Choice’ is one of four songs penned by the trio of Al Denson, Julie, and Robert White Johnson. This pulsating, youthful rocker cautions us to make wise decisions in life: “Caught up in a real good time/Careful how it ends tonight/One moment could change your life.../It’s a choice/Whatcha gonna do?/Which voice will you listen to?/The choice/It’s up to you/The world is spinning upside down/Will you look above or to the crowd/It’s not too late, the time is now/You reap what you sow”. ‘Why’ is a pop song about empathy: “Have you lost who you really are?/Always on display/So desperate, so self-aware/But trying hard to play a part won’t fix your broken heart/I wanna know why, why, why do you hurt this way?/Try, try, try find the words to say/I, I, I want a brand new hope in both our lives/I wanna know why”.
‘I Won’t Cry’ is a manly rock number that is a fave of mine. It describes what our attitude should be when we’ve been wronged: “The hurt and pain you caused me/It must have come from something/I can’t explain (2X)/So let the heavens open wide and put an ending to your pride/Punishment I can’t give/I’ll find the strength to forgive/I know I can’t condemn you/And only God can save you/Judge and jury step aside/Heaven’s justice will abide”. ‘The Love of the Lord Endures’ is a Joy Williams cover that is a long-time favourite of Julie’s. It is a lovely praise and worship song: “When I stumble, when I fall/When I’m walking ten feet tall/Your love is there day after day/Oh, even at the worst extremes/Or after I have been redeemed/Your love is there and it won’t let me go/The love of the Lord endures/Oh, the love of the Lord endures/If there’s one thing I can be sure/It’s that the love of the Lord endures”.
The album ends with two bonus tracks. ‘Breathing Room’ was originally the first track on Julie’s 2012 album. The song serves as a prayer: “Lord, I need some breathing room/My life’s keeping me from You/Take away my foolish pride but leave the truth/And Lord, I need to take some time to change this selfish heart inside/Only You create this space, my breathing room”. ‘It is Well’ is a 2013 Kristine DiMarco composition that is combined here with the classic hymn. The result is an almost eight minute long, beautifully orchestrated song of faith: “Far be it from me to not believe/Even when my eyes can’t see/And this mountain that’s in front of me/Will be thrown into the midst of the sea/And through it all, through it all/My eyes are on You/And through it all, through it all/It is well”.
On UNBROKEN, Julie Elias proves that she is a very diverse artist. Her vocals are equally amazing whether she is singing pop/rock music, inspirational ballads, or praise and worship fare. The skilled players on this project are: Jeff Roach, Jason Webb, Dave Cleveland, Steve Brewster, Gary Lund, and Rob Hawkins. I would categorize these twelve songs as mainly music for youth and young adults. They are songs that will encourage and build you up. They will also point you to God, your Maker. They will deepen your faith. The photos of Julie included with this project are stunning. Fans of Natalie Grant, Elizabeth South, and Cheri Keaggy will like this album. I’m rating it 98%. For more info visit: www.julieeliasmusic.com and www.auroraministries.com.