Reading the bio on Rick Elias’ website, one finds plenty of significant career highlights. Notably, Elias was a founding member of A Ragamuffin Band where he recorded and toured with the late Rich Mullins. Elias also contributed to Bob Carlisle’s smash album, Butterfly Kisses (Shades of Grace) and various movie soundtracks. But this career overview fails to do justice to Elias’ solo career. His two albums from the 90s, Ten Stories and Rick Elias & The Confessions, are two albums that conspicuously stand head and shoulders above most of the muck and mire that is contemporary Christian music -- both then and now. With the (mostly) Old Testament-themed “jōb,” Elias – the solo artist – has triumphantly returned; sometimes with a fury.
This relatively brief (by today’s standards) 7-song release includes prime examples of Elias’ musical strengths. The album’s title track is a great bit of Stones-y, gritty swagger, while the quieter “When It All Came Down” features one of Elias’ smartest lyrical allegories: “All my crimes and all my lies/They circle the drain like a spider going down the sink.” The release even includes a few surprises. Who knew Elias could singlehandedly track a Beach Boys-like vocal section the way he does toward the end of “Do Ya”?
One of my favorite Rick Elias memories was watching him struggle to sing Bob Dylan’s “Pressing On” at the Cornerstone Festival way back when. He had problems with his voice, which made it crack when he sang. But rarely before had I witnessed such a perfect match of performance with song. Pressing on, indeed. Elias applies this same sincere vulnerability with the heartfelt “Help Thou My Unbelief.” It’s a song where Elias lets his sometimes shaky faith stand naked to the ear, and its utter honesty is chilling. There are no easy answers in this life brothers and sisters, Elias reminds us.
I only have two criticisms after absorbing this fantastic new album. Number one, Rick, please don’t take so long between albums next time! Secondly, please, please give us a bigger piece of the pie than just 7 songs. And to discerning music fans I say, buy this album right now! http://www.rickelias.com/store/#!/~/category/id=7020679&offset=0&sort=pr...