We are very close to finishing the new album. Yesterday Roy wrapped up the last bit of miscellaneous recording (shakers, tambourines, background vocals, etc.). My good friend Carolyn Arends popped in to lend her voice to four of the songs, and Glenda Rae (who’s become a bit of a fan favourite) added her distinctive bluesy voice to a few others. Today, everything’s been turned over to Greg Reely to mix. Greg is a fantastic mixing engineer whose resume is a veritable “Who’s Who?” of popular music. He’s worked with the likes of Sarah McLachlan and Coldplay. Mixing should wrap up Monday, and the goal is to send everything to the printers by Sept. 20th. We should receive CD’s about 3 weeks after that.
The new album is called “Restless”. The album covers quite a bit of territory lyrically, but restlessness is a common thread running through most of it. I tend to be a restless person at the best of times, and that’s something I’ve been forced to deal with over these past few years. I don’t think that’s the way I should be. I think that part of maturing as a follower of Jesus is learning to rest in God regardless of the circumstances you’re in. I think that, but I know that while that’s a noble goal to strive for, there’s often a gap between faith as it “should be” and as it really is. On this album, I’ve tried to write about my experiences in a way that acknowledges the difficulty of finding faith while offering hope that is genuine and sober.
But the scope of this album is a lot broader than my anxieties about my personal circumstances (thank goodness!) There are other kinds of restlessness. Sometimes it’s quite proper to feel restless about the world around us. When I think of the “Occupy” movement, the economic crisis in 2008, or images of the political unrest in Egypt and I can’t help feeling like our world is restless for something better. A few of the songs express my restlessness for the Church in North America to engage with our world in a more Christlike manner. I can’t help but feel we’ve become somewhat insular and shallow. Rather than seeking to walk in the way of the crucified One, we’ve used our faith both to insulate ourselves from the world around us, and to medicate our loneliness, our guilt, and our need for meaning and significance. Insulation and medication are not bad things, but they can be self-serving and when we abuse them we end up careless and numb.
Much of what I hear in modern Christian music reflects and feeds this. Many of the songs we sing in church today are about asking God to take us out of the world. To shelter us and to be our hiding place. This new album is about asking God to help us engage the world, about trying to live like Jesus did. Embracing a restless world with hope and with grace, however uncomfortable that may make us. The point of the album is not to ease our restlessness, but rather to help us to become properly restlessness about more significant things (poverty, injustice, human trafficking, etc.).
The album does have a few lighter moments. There’s a fun folk song I wrote while reminiscing about the first apartment Ruth and I lived in, and a wonderful worship song called “We Come”, that Steve Bell recorded a number of years ago, written by his friend Jim Crogaert.
The title song, “Restless”, is a playful acoustic guitar song which really sums up the whole album. It was inspired by St. Augustine who wrote, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.”.
The album will release November 2nd, 2012. Anyone who preorders the new album will get their autographed copies a few weeks early. You can order CD’s in the store here on the website. We’re planning to hold a big CD release concert with the band in my hometown of Swift Current, and I’ll be travelling across the country playing solo concerts shortly after that. I hope to see you at a release concert in your neighbourhood. If you’re interested in hosting, please contact me to make arrangements.
Thanks for your interest in my work. I really think you’ll enjoy this new album.