Today's Praise: Julian Drive delivers reflective Southern rock
Even in bad times, real life has a way of spawning good music.
It’s certainly the case for songwriter Shane Bowers of Julian Drive, a Georgia-based band that drives home a message of hope with a Southern-rock edge.
The band’s major-label debut — "My Coming Day" — is filled with songs that describe heartache, healing and devotion. Several of the tracks are very personal.
Bowers’ parents divorced when he was 4.
"I made a pact early on … saying I’m never going to go through that myself," he said.
But things didn’t work out according to plan.
When Bowers edged toward marriage in his mid-20s, he saw some warning signs that things weren’t going to work out well — "I think we both knew, but we got married anyway."
As time progressed, the relationship became so strained that the couple just gave up the fight.
And that led to a lot of guilt.
"Being involved with the youth ministry at church, that just made me beat myself up even more," Bowers said. "I couldn’t forgive myself."
However, spending time reading, reflecting and praying helped him appreciate God’s forgiveness.
"I finally got to the point where I said, ‘Christ can forgive me; why can’t I forgive myself?’"
He then asked God to take the mistake and use it to help others.
"He’ll use us in spite of us," Bowers said. "He’ll use us through our storms."
In this case, the experience provided the basis for "Cry." The song describes finding hope amid sadness with lyrics like: "I’m on my way to a better day. … when I think I’m alone you’re by my side."
And, indeed, the song has encouraged others.
"As soon as this record was put together, I started getting e-mails and calls," Bowers said. "Certainly, divorce is not something I’m proud of … but there’s forgiveness. God’s forgiven me — and, not only that, he’s given me a wife and kids."
"My Coming Day" contains other personal reflections. "One Step Away" emerged from daily devotions during a difficult time in Bowers’ life. The comforting ballad describes the nearness of God during troubled times.
"I was reading in my devotion books one day, and something in that book just jumped out at me … that song came quicker than a lot of them. It sort of wrote itself," Bowers said.
The album opens with the melodic "From Your Hands," which describes Jesus’ love and sacrifice. The energetic "Unplug" describes "distractions all around me" that can block out God.
The title track also grew out of daily devotions and continues the theme of hope.
"No matter how dark those days get, as long as you know Christ, there’s always going to be a better day coming," Bowers said.
Today’s Praise is a roundup of news and reviews from the contemporary Christian music industry. And for the record, Shane is not related to Brian Bowers.