In retrospect, Home was an obvious result.
In the few years following Love & War & The Sea In Between, Josh Garrels found an ever-increasing, well, everything. From the number of tour dates to the sizes of venues to the numbers in attendance, the Portland artist’s popularity grew in scope equal to the epic album he’d released. His songs were heard in Starbucks and on American Idol, featured in Billboard and NPR, and over 200,000 people grabbed ahold of Love & War.
For an artist as thoughtful as Garrels, it took considerable time to flesh out these new songs — or even to find the personal space needed to create again. In the midst of tour dates and a special DVD project with Mason Jar Music (The Sea In Between), Garrels slowly began chipping away at them — songs that would eventually embody the name of the album they’re on: Home. They serve as a response to the grand scope of his last release. They’re intimate. They’re warm and vulnerable. They’re also some of his best.
SSv: At what point did you know these songs were going to be about this feeling and theme of Home?
Josh: To be honest, I never really know what I’m working with, or toward, until I’m quite a ways into the creative process. On the front end I’ll have vague impressions, very few words, and upwards of 30 to 40 audio sketches. My first big edit is to cut this number of potential songs in half, and then begin further development of the remaining 15 to 20 songs by writing lyrics and adding some sonic layers. It’s not until maybe halfway into the album-making process that I realize which ideas, sounds, and themes I’m gravitating to in particular. Once the personality, or theme, of the work has been recognized, the task then is to create focus and harmony between the songs, which often means cutting a few more songs. In the case of Home, I was left with 11 songs that I felt could work together to create a cohesive album.
Matt Conner is a freelance writer and music journalist. As the founding pastor of The Mercy House, he led a church community for more than six years in intense community development across racial and socio-economic lines. As a writer, he’s interviewed thousands of musicians for multiple print and web-based publications.