Warning: session_start(): Cannot send session cookie - headers already sent by (output started at /home/relate/public_html/index.php:4) in /home/relate/public_html/wp-config.php on line 24

Warning: session_start(): Cannot send session cache limiter - headers already sent (output started at /home/relate/public_html/index.php:4) in /home/relate/public_html/wp-config.php on line 24
rock • Relate Magazine

Veridia: Inseparable EP

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins
veridia-inseparableI love rock music. I love the intensity in it that no other genre can sustain. I love the edge. And I love the unexpected emotions that a solid rock album can provide. While Veridia might understandably be compared to Fireflight or Flyleaf, they reveal their own personality on Inseparable. This five song EP has me rocking out to their anthems, but most importantly, they have me gasping for breath with their stunning perspectives on the realities we share. After recovering from some pretty substantial insights in these tracks, I have those “I never thought of it that way before” moments, and I know Inseparable will be a go-to album with longevity on my iPod.

My favorite track is “Mechanical Planet.” Their creativity reminded me of the genius in The Screwtape Letters written by C.S. Lewis; both force me to face the reality that while God yearns for my attention, a darker force is at work, too. I can either listen to the lies (the devil), or I can pursue the truth (God). The song is delivered from the perspective of satan who delights in the self-loathing, knowing that as long as a person is chin-deep in misery, she can’t be hearing God and fulfilling the potential he has bestowed upon her. The lyrics are absolutely brilliant, told from a creative perspective, but the chilling lyrics delivered two-thirds of the way through the song are the bow holding the song together. Once spoken, the lead singer could drop the mic and be done:  “I never wanted you to believe/That when you are down on your knees/That someone is actually listening…That you have never fought alone. Never have you fought alone.” I challenge you to listen to this song while you’re down and realize you are totally playing into the opposition’s hand by entertaining all that negativity.

“Furious Love” has my attention from the beginning of the song with the undercurrent of the strings and the first verse that tells the story of a girl placing her worth and value in the vision of a guy. They steal my heart with the simple lyric “The girl I was/I soon forgot;” I’m reminded how the focus of superficial beauty and giving the power to a human to make me feel “loved” depletes who I am in my soul. Thankfully, God doesn’t love us conditionally this way, and the song effectively delivers that sentiment home.

“We are the Brave” (“Whatever it takes/We’re gonna make it together”) and “Disconnected” (“We should be building bridges/Instead of burning them down”) are great rock anthems that will gain the casual listener’s attention but reveal this band can play with the best of them, including the seasoned counterparts that share their rock sensibilities. Make no mistake, though, they are distinguished enough to stand on their own; the brilliance of “Mechanical Planet” and “Furious Love” solidifies that truth. The best thing about discovering a young band like this is not just that I get five little gems that I can listen to on repeat, but to realize they probably have only scratched the surface of what they will deliver. I’m anxiously awaiting new tunes from them that prove me right.

For more information, please visit www.veridiamusic.com and be sure to download Inseparable today.

Remind Me

by Nadia Gyane


prayLord remind me when I’m having a bad day of your blessings and provisions you have given me for the day.

When my hair doesn’t look its best, that I am still beautiful.

When I feel unworthy and unloved that I am truly and unconditionally loved by you.

Remind me of your blessings that you send me each and every day, your caring hand upon my life and your gentle voice that guides me all day long.

Lord remind me of your forgiveness and your mercy’s which are new every morning. Remind me even when things don’t go my way that you are always there, and that you care.

Remind me that you are my Rock, my Life and my Salvation.

Remind me of your precious gifts sent to bless me.

Please Lord remind that you are my everything, my all and all and that I love you, because I may forget, so please Lord remind me.

Spoken: Illusion

Spoken:  Illusion

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

Spoken-IllusionI knew absolutely nothing about this band when I first listened to them in March.  The label,  a hard rock band that admits their love for Christ, is a little vague. And when I first listened, my head was still full of Love and Death songs, so the comparisons were strong.  Spoken sounded maybe just a little bit fresher, and get this, younger.  Their anthems drew me in instantly (“Through it All” is incredible), their screaming let me understand their passion, and their lyrics begged for me to include them over my instagram pics-my own personal source for inspiration.  So while they sounded young, there’s wisdom in the songs that usually come only with maturity.  Silly me, it wasn’t until I had been enjoying their music for a few weeks that I did my research and discovered that this is their seventh album.  I had to check a few places to make sure that was right-while the singer is the only original member, Spoken has been around since the nineties.  Yet they don’t sound tired or robotic or mundane.  Nor do they sound like a band who is stuck in the past century.


“Stand Alone” screams a little bit.  Something about the past and facing it and it threatening to consume.  Fear billows up and says you’re alone, but the soul, the spirit, reminds that “I am NOT alone.”  It’s furious; the words “I am not alone” are said with venom, but the fury is aimed at the devil who wants you to fold to the panic.  It’s so good.  “More Than You Know” and “Don’t Go” deal with taking something precious for granted and facing the loss while “Take Everything” seems a like a prayer, asking for God to take all that is offered and make it His.  And while “Through it All” is an inspiring, motivational song, “Calm the Storm” is the begging for peace in the midst of chaos and confusion.  Those two are my favorites.  While Matt Baird screams a little bit, it’s because he wants to, not because he has to; his vocal chops are quite impressive, and the band keeps up.  Illusion in its entirety really is a joy to listen to.


Sometimes melodic rock, sometimes screamo, Spoken annihilated any of my resistance and shattered the comparisons I had in the beginning.  While I can’t imagine the struggles associated with being in a band for almost two decades, I do relate to the personal struggles that all Christians must confront, and I’m grateful for the insight and the encouragement and the comfort that these songs give me.  Once enjoyed, it really is irreplaceable.


Please visit www.spokenmusic.com for more information and be sure to download a copy today.

Interview with Jacob Jeffries

Interview with Jacob Jeffries

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

jacob jeffriesBecause I have never found a piano driven rock band that I didn’t like, and because my research on Jacob hinted at the fact that not only does he have talent, but a great sense of humor as well, I decided to ask a few questions about his writing and his music.

Relate:  First memory of music:

Jacob: I have a pretty distinct memory of being at a planetarium with my family and some family friends when I was about 10 or 11. We were there for a laser light show that illustrated Beatle-esque imagery to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. There was something magical about that night. I ended up having to leave the planetarium early, sobbing. Not sure what it was, some kind of coming of age moment, questioning life and fearing death and all that jazz. The music was loud, provoking and really, really affected me.

R:  Name one song you wish you had written and why.

J:  Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song. Really, I just wish I was Will Smith.

R:  My personal favorite from the album is “Believer.”  What inspired that song?

J:  Thank you. This stupid girl that I called my girlfriend for a while decided to cheat on me with an ogre. So when the band and I ended up in Atlanta for a gig, we took a few days off to write about what was on our mind- Believer was born.

R:  I also loved the song “Crazy Under the Moon” because it makes me feel like risks are worth taking, even if things don’t work out. What’s the riskiest thing you’ve done or would do to pursue music or do you not consider the pursuit risky at all?

J:  Again, thank you. Risks are an everyday thing right? Chances to jeopardize yourself are presented all the time, through different decision making opportunities. I could easily say that signing with Warner when I was 18 was a huge risk, because it was. Really though, walking up to the piano and trying to hammer out something new and beautiful is risky. Who’s gonna like this, who’s gonna hate it? Who cares?   This whole business has zero guarantees – one big risk.

R:  You’ve toured or had shows with bands like the Gin Blossoms and Dashboard Confessional who have been around for a really long time. What have you been able to learn about the music industry or about yourself as a musician from them?

J:  Longevity is real. Sustaining a sturdy public image is rooted in staying true to yourself. Conforming, selling out, whatever you want to call it, is easy and can be comfortable to some. BUT, getting people to jump aboard your bandwagon, and stay on board forever, is a beautiful thing that takes confidence and truth.

R:  Do you think your music fits under the category of art, or is it better defined as entertainment?

J:  Both. There is an evoking quality to our lyrics and our music as a whole I think. Our live show really becomes more of an awesome form of entertainment than anything else. Toot Toot – that’s my own horn. :)

R:  Who are your musical and/or songwriting heroes?

J:  Paul McCartney, Rufus Wainwright, Jeff Tweedy, Tom Petty, Ben Folds, Mike Viola, Fiona Apple, Paul Simon, Stevie Nicks, James Taylor, John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, George Harrison.

R:  Since the name of the album is called Tell Me Secrets, I’m curious to know if you have ever written a song that you considered too personal and doubt you’d ever share it with the listeners?

J:  Yeah. I have written a few that just don’t translate well. Stuff about my dad, my friends and their heartaches. Subjects that are relatable, but the songs are too specific ya know?

R:  Which is your favorite:  writing, recording, or touring and why?

J:  I couldn’t possibly decide. That’s like me asking you what’s more delicious breakfast, lunch, or dinner? Depends on your mood, the time of day, your hunger, the meal itself. One thing is for sure, you need ’em all to survive.

Please visit www.jacobjeffriesband.com for more information and be sure to download the album Tell Me Secrets from iTunes.

Jacob Jeffries Band: Tell Me Secrets

Jacob Jeffries Band: Tell Me Secrets

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

Jacob Jeffries Band: Tell Me SecretsTell Me Secrets is this talented group’s fourth release.  I’m a little bummed about missing out on the evolution of this southern Florida band that the state has selfishly kept as their “best kept secret.”  But, not to despair, I love this ten track release (eleven, if you count the barely a minute track Musique something or other, but I don’t count it because I’m not sure I “get” it, and I felt it ruined the flow of the album, being stuck smack dab in the middle like it is).  But in general, I’m loving it so much, I will gladly tell my secrets; at least, all the ones pertaining to how I feel about these guys.

First, I must reveal they are a piano driven rock band.  I know what you’re thinking-“not another Coldplay wannabe group!” Relax. They are so not that.  In fact, it’s quite impressive how unique they sound while being familiar at the same time.  It might have a little bit to do with Jacob’s voice-it’s distinctive but not annoying. And it might have a little bit to do with the fact that the piano brings to mind references to classic rock, but the last thing they do is sound old or overdone.

With that said, there are several stand out tracks on this album.  “Worth the Wait,” the opening song, I’m taking personally; it’s okay that I had to wait all this time without hearing them because I have this album to enjoy now.  It’s also the song the title of the album comes from.  “Crazy Under the Moon,” which they also have a video for, is absolutely fantastic.  I love the message about taking a chance, even if it may sound absurd to everyone else, and I love the lyrical line that has both regret and hope in it.  The words in between, I ignore them because I’m so struck by the fact that two can coexist-that a person can survive loss and disappointment but still realize that it was all worth it.  “Believer,” the soul driven, six minute track was my absolute favorite; by seeing how lost someone else is, he sees his own need.  And I enjoy the energy of “Ancestors.”  It seems strategically placed at the end-I love it so much that I allow the album to loop back to the beginning rather than shutting it off.  And as it all starts again, I keep thinking to myself, “I have to listen to just one more song because I LOVE this one!”  Track eleven returns much too soon, and before I know it, an afternoon has passed, bathed by nothing else but the Jacob Jeffries Band. It’s a good way to spend a day.

Tell Me Secrets proves that this band is ready to be heard and recognized; the dues have been paid.  And after a lot of time listening, the album isn’t a request for a fan to tell secrets, or a listener to hear a secret or two from the band. This album takes the secrets and sets them free in the songs, giving them flight.  Yours, theirs, it doesn’t matter, because all too often, they are one in the same.

Please visit www.jacobjeffriesband.com for more information and be sure to download the album.

Catch Wild: Waking Up With Fire

Catch Wild: Waking Up With Fire

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

Catch WildA nice mix of pop and rock, Catch Wild is also equal parts energy and raw emotion.  There is no settling in with this seven song collection; it’s instantly familiar and likable.  I don’t want to make any direct comparisons, but they are a little bit Paramore, teensy bit No Doubt, and a whole lot, well, Catch Wild.

Waking Up With Fire’s seven songs can almost be separated into a this side, that side type of album.  The first four songs are all about their energy and their drive.  “Supersonic Flight” begins  with a kicking guitar riff that also becomes the pulsating rhythm, underlying Jessica’s voice that beckons “let’s make it something good” to anyone willing to travel with her.  “Star” has a regretful tone that never ventures into angry yet still makes its point; “I was gonna be a star.” It’s difficult to not want to go after whoever betrayed her/stood in her way.  I am totally sold on this song and am truly thinking the loss is mine if her dreams don’t come to fruition.    On the flip side of that, “Hollywood” explores giving up a materialistic version of success for the right person.

It’s the later half of the album that dives a little deeper and puts the songwriting skills in full display.  I love how their signature sound doesn’t disappear, even as the tempo slows a little, and the energy isn’t lost even as the lyrics take a front seat.  “Under the Gun” has the best line on the entire album-“The shadows come with the sun,” which also sums up the song best.  “The Drop” is a great song about encouraging someone to put down their addictions.  But, really, my favorite by far is “In Rapture.” This song takes the message of disarming yourself and allowing love to transform you into a more beautiful person and drives it home perfectly.  Wonderfully written and performed even better, this is a gem of a song that stands in a stratosphere of its own.

The only track that gave me pause was “Hurricane.” I question the implications of the lyrics but respect that they remain implications only and that the line is never crossed.

Catch Wild began as an acoustic duo between Jessica Rose and Doug Atkins, and while they have evolved into a high energy, rock driven band, songwriting remains at their core.  Because that fundamental is forgotten or glossed over by other bands, that foundation is what sets Catch Wild apart.  So, while their passion for music may be what has them on fire, there is little chance they will burn out any time soon.

Please visit www.catchwild.com for more information.  The album will be available June 5.

Travis Ryan: Fearless

Travis Ryan:  Fearless

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

Travis Ryan:  FearlessI love the word fearless.  Not as an adjective, but as a verb.  A command.  To stop living life with anxiety or fear and submit to a God that knows what we need better than we do.  Travis seems to want this as well, citing scripture 1 John 4:18 (“There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear”) as a prayer for the church and a theme that encompasses this worship album.

Fearless has just enough rock infused in the songs to make this worship project stand out a bit from other recent worship releases, yet it still fits in nicely to any worship set.  Perfect examples include the guitars in the latter half of the last song, “Chase;” what begins as a quiet song about God seeking us, beckoning us, evolves into an explosive expression of gratitude that He loves us infinitely.  But, more so, there is an undercurrent of drums that ebbs and flows throughout the album, reminding me of the battle we are always in; that this in fact a war for our souls.

Favorites include the “Battle Song,” “Jesus, Precious Jesus” (the first single), and “The Wrestling,” citing all the ways and reasons why Jesus wins out over the world (“How great is your love/How great is your love”).  Like “Chase,” the song blossoms into a celebration for the victory.  But, ultimately, if there is any song not to miss, for me it is, “Awaken Us,” for the lyrics “This is our desire/Come like a fire.”  The closer the walk with God, the more alive we are, which will influence our decisions and desires.

Joined by some of worship’s leading writers including Matt Redman and Jason Ingram and Grammy winning mixers and engineers,  Adam Hawkins and Chris Testa, Fearless very well may become go to album for me as I struggle with my insecurities rather than embrace the courage that resides in a dependency on God.  Because these songs remind me of all that I lose sight of when I am letting my fears take the foothold, the album becomes more than just another praise record in my collection.  Fearless is strong and bold; a collection of songs that resonates deeply and inspires greatly.

For more information, please visit www.integritymusic.com.  The album will be available for purchase on April 10.

Brad Brooks: Harmony of Passing Light

Brad Brooks:  Harmony of Passing Light

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

Brad Brooks:  Harmony of Passing LightFor the first few listens, Harmony of Passing Light is difficult to decipher.  Brad’s voice, ranging from Paul McCartney to Mick Jagger to Freddie Mercury, is quite an instrument in itself, so much so that it’s hard to focus on what he’s saying.  The faster tempo tracks like the opening “Calling Everyone” and “Spinner & the Spun” begs the question, who really cares what he’s singing about, sounding like that?  The piano, littered throughout like leaves disturbed by the wind, is even more of a distraction.  There’s a lot of soul in this, a little rock, and a lot of musical variety, which really makes for a lot to love.

But when it comes down to it, I always care what an artist is leaving up to my interpretation.   What I discovered was that there’s a lot of sadness here.  “Will It Be Enough?” leaves little to the imagination; it is indeed a song about drug abuse (“If all that you propose/Gets lost upside your nose”… “So fall against the grain till someone hits that vein”).  “Bumbelina,” too, follows that same misery of watching someone self destruct (“All the things you didn’t wanna stop, tumbling down a mountaintop).

The one moment of clarity and a peak of happiness appear on track nine, the song “Hope is That I Got You.” When he mentions the word faith in this song, it’s the one time that I get the impression that it’s something he wants to have rather than something he’s afraid is nothing more than emptiness.  “Grand Manner” is similar, but while he mentions faith, he is just as concerned that it is a disillusion (“But I can’t tell if it’s just rain/Or some kind of truth that I can tell”).

And it was indeed that amount of uncertainty that detracted, for me, at least, from the brilliance of the music.  While for several listens, I wondered if it was just me who was unable to untangle Brad’s lyrics, I came to the conclusion that it was his own sadness and loss that threw me off balance.   Some comfort may be found for the listener who has experienced similar life struggles for the simple fact that it’s sometimes enough to know we are not alone, the album in its entirety reflects a heartbreak that leads to mistrust, in not just people, but life’s beauty as well.  As a musician, he excels at expressing himself, but as a listener who would rather cling to hope, I must ask for so much more from the music I lose myself in.

Visit www.bradbrooksmusic.com for more information.

Rains: Stories

Rains: Stories

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

Rains: Stories

Rains: Stories

Maybe it’s the fact that I grew up less than two hours from Ft. Wayne, IN, where this
band is from, or the fact that their music is so much like the other bands that comprise
the soundtrack of my life, but I connected to the music of Rains. A little grungier
than Daughtry, they have that effortless rock sound. I could listen to music like theirs
endlessly and never get bored.

To add to that gravitational pull rock music has for me, the band titled their album
Stories. Mix music together with writing, and I seriously can’t help myself. There used
to be a journalist on primetime tv convinced that everyone had a story, and so he would
call a random phone number then meet with the person who answered. A five year old
boy picked up the phone once, and this journalist wondered if he had bit off more than he
could chew, but he discovered that this child, too, had a story. I absolutely love that. We
all have a story to tell. And how we process and perceive what other people tell us about
themselves is filtered by our own life experiences.

I digress. Sort of. Through the tracks that make up the album Stories, Rains tells big
stories that encompass many years and small ones, like snapshots of a person’s life; their
own and what others have shared with them. “Hurricane” tells the story of a young old
man who had lost his family in an accident. He recounts his losses and asks, “Can you
imagine?” No, but I love that the listener has taken the time to hear it all out, as if just
spending the time listening could ease some of the burden.

My favorite two songs were “Wait” and “Five Minutes.” Told from the perspective of
watching someone else endure these trials, “Wait” was about not giving up before dreams
are realized. “Five Minutes” tells the story of someone who puts things off, thinking
she has a lifetime ahead of her to really live, and then discovers too late that she wasted
too much time and the opportunities have passed. I loved the poetic sensibilities, the
messages of these songs put so crisply that I got them both on the very first listen.

“Right or Wrong” seems to be from the perspective of a father who realizes he has made
mistakes and may not have left the best examples for his child, but regardless, he loves
so much that he knows that is the best and only thing he can do to compensate for his
choices. And “American Dream” offers a different vision, of one who has chased the
dreams that America tells us we all need to follow only to find depression and poverty
instead. It is, at the essence, an urging to walk the path that is best for you and discover
your dreams, no matter how different they may be from everyone else’s.

The remaining tracks are as good, with the exception of two: “Pressure” and “Hate.”
Both feature profanity that would have made me reject a lesser album. But Rains have
some great stories to share, told from different perspectives with some great insights.
I loved the undercurrents of piano in some songs, the edgy violin in others, and some

great acoustic guitar that fill out this rock band and give them a great overall sound. As
a reviewer, I feel this album has a depth that makes it one that I was not only grateful to
hear from the entertainment standpoint, but it’s one of those rare rock albums that makes
me feel that I’m better off hearing and taking to heart.

Please be sure to visit www.myspace.com/rainsband for more information and be sure to
download legally from a digital retailer of your choice.

Ted Hovis: Let It Shine

Ted Hovis: Let It Shine

Written by Ellen Marie Hawkins

Ted Hovis

Ted Hovis

(picture courtesy of www.myspace.com/tedhovis)

Ted’s voice is a beautiful instrument; an engaging one. And fortunately for him, it also
sets him apart. It was difficult for me to place a comparison; he’s that unique without
being weird. The focal point for me is often the lyrics on an album, but there were times
I had to force myself to pay attention to what he was singing about rather than how he
was singing it.

Also fortunately for him, Ted guitar skills are as good as his vocals; only making my
predicament with focusing even more difficult. He alternates so well between soul and
blues and rock, there isn’t a genre for him to fit in, and that’s a good thing because talent
like this shouldn’t be contained to one space. For him, it just spills over.

So now, the lyrics. Who is this guy and what is he about? There’s a lot of loss here.
In “The Well Has Run Dry,” Ted makes my heart hurt as he sings, “Have I lost my
place in this world/If I haven’t the strength to try anymore.” He also seems to hold onto
something he often feels he’s about to lose. In “Until It Fades,” he sings, “But it all feels
so right/To be here by your side/Until it fades away.” This sentiment seems to be an
underlying current to many of the tracks on the album.

But there’s also hope. In “The Place You Called Home,” the chorus declares, “You’ll
find me waiting for you/In the place you called home” as a loved one struggles to return
to happier times. In “Twisting in Denial,” one of the stand outs on the album, Ted
promises that he’d rather feel the pain than living with false hope. In “Thinking Out
Loud,” he realizes that “Time is a healer, time is a means to an end/Time lets me see
again.” And even in “Until it Fades,” while the written lyric has such a heaviness to it,
Ted delivers it in a way that reveals he’s just appreciating the moment and not focusing
on the heartache at the end of the road.

Ultimately, hope floats. Even if it seems lost in the quagmire of heartbreak. And I
appreciate the sentiment that Let it Shine gave to me; without the valleys, we can’t
appreciate the pinnacles for the beauty that resides there. Ted’s got a beautiful way of
taking you on that journey, from one end of the spectrum to the other.

Please visit him at www.tedhovis.com and be sure to purchase on iTunes.