Well, it’s finally here – the project that began for me in January with a few ideas scribbled down in notebooks and hastily recorded on iPhone, has now miraculously turned into the CD in my hand. It’s been a fantastic experience: the process of co-writing with a whole range of people (many for the first time); the joy of working in studio with some amazing musicians; and the excitement of ‘pushing the boat out’ with producer and good friend Mark Edwards to explore some sounds and musical genres that don’t usually make an appearance on worship albums.
So the release comes with a great deal of anticipation – and a little bit of nervousness! I’m personally absolutely delighted with it, but I’m sure there will be some people who are a bit taken aback by the different musical directions.
I happened to read a very early review where the reviewer couldn’t work out whether it was a ‘folk album’ or a ‘worship album’ – as if it couldn’t be both! And in some ways this articulates exactly why I wanted to make an album like this. Whereas a few years ago some people objected to the use of drums, electric guitar and bass in worship, now it seems it’s not worship UNLESS it’s got drums, wall to wall electric guitars and an eighth-note driving bass!
So we’ve tried to revive the sound of fiddles, whistles, flutes, clarinets, string quartets, accordions, banjos and brass (not to mention dobro and mandocello courtesy of Bryn Haworth!) in worship, in the hope that at least some of these instruments will start making a reappearance in the worshipping life of churches everywhere (although I appreciate that many do already). And under the influence of everything from Kate Rusby to Bellowhead, Bombay Bicycle Club to Tom Waits, we’ve tried to break free from the 4 chord rock anthem while still presenting congregational tunes and theological truth that will inspire worship in the people of God.
There’s a broad range of content: a song about the wisdom of God, about faith, a song of intercession (“Kyrie Eleison”), a reworking of the hymn “It is well with my soul”, a couple of songs about God’s love (and our need for it to be reflected in our own lives), and there’s even a song about money, and the call to generosity and simple living.
I just want to close by saying what a privilege it has been to work with an amazing bunch of musicians. Some I have got to know by working with them live on tours; others have just been good friends for many years; still others are people I’ve only met very recently; but all gave their talents so graciously and liberally on this album, I feel so grateful to them. Most of all, I would like to thank Mark Edwards, who handles his phenomenal talent with such humility and enthusiasm, his contribution to this and many of my previous albums has been inestimable.