` Jesusfreakhideout.com: Tim Juillet, "Nazareth Man" Review
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JFH Indie Review

JFH Indie Music Spotlight Review

Tim Juillet, 'Nazareth Man'

Tim Juillet
Nazareth Man

Street Date: December 1, 2023
Style: Rock Opera
Official Site: TimJuillet.com
Buy It: AmazonMP3
Buy It: iTunes

Rock operas based on the life of Jesus may be new from a recent history standpoint, but they are not under-represented. The life of the Messiah is one people can't stop talking about and processing, and music is an entertaining medium to do that through. Jesus Christ Superstar is probably the most popular, though there have been plenty of others (anybody remember !Hero starring Michael Tait some years ago?). If the gospel rock opera landscape seems a little dry in more recent years, a new libretto by Arizona-based music teacher, songwriter, and worship leader Tim Juillet has arrived on the scene. Nazareth Man is a massive, two-disc, two-hour project consisting of 23 tracks of Scripture pulled from the gospels and set to music, along with 4 songs of original lyrics that serve as bookends for the two act structure of this opera.

To help bring this grand story to life, Juillet enlists the help of singers and musicians from all around the world. Among the large cast of singers, the most notable presence is that of Abbie Parker from I Am They serving as one of the narrators. For the most part, the singers do a commendable job of singing their parts. Scott Foster Harris, who plays Jesus, carries most of that weight and does a good job of displaying the Savior's gravitas while giving himself room to showcase his pipes. Some of the smaller roles struggle at times in working with the frenetic pace of singing Scripture. Kai 9, the other narrator, also takes a couple listens to adjust to as he semi-raps and uses spoken word. I think the fault is less with Kai 9 and more in the challenge of making prose Bible passages sound melodic or move in time with the music.

The music itself is certainly a strong aspect of this record. It puts the rock in rock opera, letting the guitars do most of the heavy lifting. But that doesn't mean other instruments don't have an opportunity to shine; they just don't stand out as much as the electric guitars. The compositions all feel uniform and help pull the listener into the world as Juillet presents it. The notable exceptions are "Samaritan Woman" and "When You Pray," which feature music that I can best describe as "jaunty," like what a barbershop quartet would sing. Repeat listens smooth their effect some, but the initial reaction is a jarring one.

As far as the overall effect of the storytelling of this rock opera goes, if the listener can settle in for the length, it proves to be a satisfying and uplifting experience. It feels like a well-assembled church Easter pageant, but with a broader scope, including the Christmas narrative and a host of Jesus' miracles and teachings. The way some of these get grouped together don't always make sense, and some tracks are labeled in a way where the listener thinks it's just that narrative when it's actually multiple narratives strung together (take, for instance, "Jesus Turns Water into Wine"). Aside from this, the main challenge of putting Scripture to music is doing it in a way that actually sounds good. For the most part, Juillet nails this, though there are occasions that feel a little rougher around the edges than others. The all-original tracks are good standouts on their own and could even make for good radio singles (though "Who Is Greater Than Our God" could be shortened).

What Tim Juillet manages to accomplish with Nazareth Man is nothing short of impressive. Not only did he write and compose the whole opera, he produced it and pulled together all the different parts. That alone makes it worthy of admiration simply for completing it. But the end product itself is one of quality. With Easter around the corner (as of this writing), I can see myself revisiting the album in all its two-hour glory to help give me perspective going into the holiday. Sometimes we get too familiar with the gospel story and fail to grasp how wonderful it really is. Projects like Nazareth Man can help us grasp that wonder again.

- Review date: 2/26/24, written by John Underdown of Jesusfreakhideout.com

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JFH Staff's Second Opinion

    Tim Juillet is a worship leader, choir director, and teacher. His newest release is a massive 2-disc, 27-track rock and spoken word album that clocks in at two hours and nineteen minutes in length. The album is largely scriptures (both spoken and sung) set to music, but also contains "regular" songs with original lyrics as well. The completely original songs are "He is the Way," "I Am the Voice," "In Jesus Name," and "Who is Greater Than Our God." The album is a complete telling of Jesus' life (starting with the prophecy of His birth and Mary's revelation), death, and resurrection. He even got Abbie Parker from I Am They to join the project as one of the narrators -- along with a very full cast of artists/musicians from all over the world. This massive and ambitious undertaking was completely composed by Juillet and self-produced in his home studio.

Musically, this album is incredibly composed. The songs flow seamlessly from one to another and they carry the story of Christ along, making it feel more interactive. There are big drums, keys, plenty of strings and orchestral parts, and huge guitars -- giving you everything from chunky rock riffs to blistering solos. Composing and arranging this alone would've been a major accomplishment, but to choose the artists, line everything up, get everything recorded, edited, and then mixed and mastered is just crazy to fathom. This one is a very obvious labor of love. The first "disc" basically takes you from the prophesied birth of Christ through His ministry. Disc two transitions to the death and resurrection.

Nazareth Man is part progressive rock album, part neo-classical, and part opera -- and somehow blends these three separate ideas into a very cohesive sound. Different narrators and vocalists add a lot of variety to the mix, which really helps to pass the 2+ hour runtime. Tim Juillet clearly put a lot of thought into the layout and arrangement of this entire project, and was intentional with the scriptures and stories chosen. This is a very unique experience and telling of the Gospel of Christ. While it does require a chunk of time, I'd recommend giving it your attention. It's doubtful to become an album that is listened to regularly given its nature, but I can guarantee you haven't heard anything like this previously. This is an excellent job by Tim Juillet and all the artists and musicians he brought in to fulfill his vision. If you're a little nervous to dive into something so big, I'd recommend starting with one of the four songs mentioned earlier ("Who is Greater Than Our God" is a great one) with original lyrics to give you just the slightest taste of what to expect. - Review date: 2/16/24, written by Michael Weaver of Jesusfreakhideout.com


JFH Indie Spotlight Review . Record Label: None
. Album length: 27 tracks: 2 hours, 19 minutes
. Street Date: December 1, 2023
. Buy It: AmazonMP3
. Buy It: iTunes

  1. Overture (2:55)
  2. He Is The Way (5:15)
  3. For Unto Us A Child Is Born (3:12)
  4. Jesus' Birth Foretold (3:36)
  5. My Soul Glorifies The Lord (4:01)
  6. Christmas Story (5:29)
  7. The Magi Visit The Messiah (3:15)
  8. Great Temptation Of Christ (3:59)
  9. Comfort Ye (2:04)
  10. John's Testimony (1:13)
  11. I Am the Voice (2:46)
  12. Jesus Turns Water Into Wine (8:53)
  13. God So Loved The World (2:27)
  14. Samaritan Woman (2:34)
  15. Jesus Calls His Disciples (6:04)
  16. Blessed Are The Poor (2:49)
  17. Come to Me (9:35)
  18. When You Pray (1:49)
  19. The Lord's Prayer (2:19)
  20. In Jesus Name (4:17)
  21. Who Is Greater Than Our God (5:52)
  22. Blessed Is He (7:59)
  23. The Last Supper (5:48)
  24. Gethsemane (16:31)
  25. Crucifixion (5:37)
  26. Resurrection (12:46)
  27. When I Leave This World (6:00)



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