Ilia, We Were Shipwrecks, as reviewed in Phantom TollboothIf occasionally in life a gem lost does return with greater luster, Ilia has proven this gem does indeed shine.

We Were Shipwrecks
Artist: Ilia
Label: Independent
Release Date: July 1, 2011
Duration: 7 tracks, 24:54

Occasionally in life a gem lost returns with greater luster. This is true in the recent reforming of the Christian post-grunge rock group Ilia (Hebrew for ‘God is Lord’). The all female band has recently returned after a year plus hiatus with a new lead singer / rhythm guitarist. Throughout 2007 and 2008 they garnered praise as one of the upcoming hot groups due in large part to their high energy live performances. 

Changes came in 2009 with the departure of their dynamic lead singer, Alyssa Duncan, and rhythm guitarist Lindsey Pierce. Changes continued in 2011 with the departure of bass player Katie Knott. Like the phoenix, Ilia has emerged from her ashes to again rock hard. With new lead singer / rhythm guitarist Brittany Mosher (can you imagine a more appropriate last name??) the group returns with new songs, both a click lighter and tighter yet just as liquid in their presentation as with Duncan at the helm. 

Lead by Mosher with original members Melissa Newman on lead guitar, Jessica Frizzell on drums, their sound remains hot and fresh. Mosher is more than confident in carrying the lead vocals, adding rhythm and the occasional shared lead guitar. Newman’s lead guitar continues to shine. Frizzell is totally in the kitchen on drums with pure emotion and energy exploding with every swing of the sticks. We Were Shipwrecks, produced by Nashville’s Steve Wilson, offers a softer, truer heart of this band without losing their history to rock hard as witnessed in recent performances of earlier offerings such as the primal “Last Night”.  

The song’s opener is personnel for the band which has fought through its changes to a new maturity. “Ezekiel” is based on Ezekiel 37:1, ‘the valley of dry bones’ scripture, this songs speaks to the faithful who will ‘rise again’: 

 The hand of the LORD was upon me, and he brought me out by the Spirit of the LORD and set me in the middle of a valley; it was full of bones. 

“We Were Shipwrecks” is a dramatic, well-constructed anthem which when discovered by the listener easily becomes a song of memory. With a lead in of prominent, fuzzy guitar and strong percussion along with meaningful lyrics, the song tells of salvation and rescue: ‘We were shipwrecks capsized by the storm, Shown no kindness, Cast away with no homes, Our time has come’. 

“Reaching” sounds like Plum with a razor sharp edge. “Fall On Us” begins with soft lead guitar as the foundation for this radio-ready, pop offering complimented by Mosher’s deep vocals and a strong chorus telling of Christ’s love for all: ‘Breath in love, Reflecting light, Fall on us’. “We Will Rise” is a song of justice giving credence and substance to the band’s causes (pro-life, human rights, and sex trafficking supporting Stand True and Red Thread.) 

Two live, acoustic renditions are given as a bonus to this EP beginning with “Reaching”, giving a more heartfelt version in this format underlined by acoustic guitar, stand-up vocals, and simple percussion. “We Were Shipwrecks” shows the musical precision of the band in retaining all the emotion of this song’s original electric version in the play of strong acoustic work. In both, the raw emotion of Mosher’s vocal qualities shine through. 

Ilia symbolizes the definition of fortitude: ‘strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage’. The courage and persistence to work through the road-weariness of touring, part-time jobs to make ends meet, and changes in band members. All of which have made for a strong, vibrant sound; something to take to heart. If occasionally in life a gem lost does return with greater luster, Ilia has proven this gem does indeed shine. 


Scott S Mertens