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In early March I joined forces with Jason Ingram and Rusty Varencamp, th team that produced Everything Sad Is Coming Untrue, to break ground on my next full-length record.

Originally we had planned to record last summer, but with the still growing success of “More Like Falling In Love” it seemed good to let Everything Sad Is Coming Untrue have a little more time to find it’s audience. We were then blessed again to have a good reception at radio for “I Am New” – after 11 years of doing this full-time, I am overjoyed to finally have connected with radio and have been grateful to find a whole new audience for my work.

2011 was a busy touring season for us, too, which left me little time to write new songs for the next record. But any moment I could break away was spent working on songs that I hoped would give shape to a new record and the next season of my ministry.

I came into the first day of recording with about half the songs still needing the lyrics finished. Every spare moment was spent trying to find out exactly what these songs wanted to say. In the past, this kind of situation has caused me a lot of stress. But I was surprised at how much peace I had going into this. My mantra (I use that term in the colloquial sense, not as an expression of Hindu practice :- ) went something like this: “God has called me to this work, he’s made me to be a song writer, I’ve been entrusted with the gift of songwriting. God has intended for me to make this record. I trust his plan, I trust the gift and calling he’s given, which means that I trust that as a writer of songs, these songs will be written when they need to be.”

Deep breath. Followed by waiting.

And eventually they were all written!Sometimes I was working on the lyric up until the very last moment – and in one instance even going back after the fact and re-singing a new lyric – but they were all written, and I’m trusting that they are all what they were intended to be.It was the closest I’ve come to striking that balance of believing that it wasn’t all up to me, and yet working diligently as though it were.

That sounds very Calvinist of me, doesn’t it? Well, I don’t mean it to be necessarily; it somehow feels to me both more and less than that. But that’s another blog…

I’d like to think that this is my best record yet. Time will tell whether that’s just the newness of it all or a legitimate assessment, but I know one thing: I’ve never been more grateful for a batch of songs. I feel like as a whole they touch deeper places of truth, fear, and hope than any other collection of songs I’ve brought to a record. I was blessed to have the players comment repeatedly about how this project felt different and one night I even got a text from Jason Ingram saying he thought this was going to be a special record and that he was grateful to be working on it with me. Maybe that’s up to you, the listener, to decide, but these kindnesses and encouragements add up and help assure me that we’re on the right track.

jason-stills-22It’s immodest to talk of my own songs this way – especially at this point in the game – so I’ll stop. But what I hope you hear is my sense of gratitude. That is my overwhelming sentiment, and for those who struggle with their own creative process, you know how significant gratitude is.

My modest success with radio this past year has made everybody I work with hopeful and expectant, but we still had to work with a realistic budget, which means that every moment had to count – no room for mistakes or for songs getting away from us. As we wondered early on about what the sonic signature should be for this record, we decided it would be cool to build it around the drums.

So we brought in Paul Mabury – my favorite drummer in the business – a day early to be really intentional about beats and the overall drum vibe. He spent the day dreaming up live loops that he would create with stomping and all kinds of other cool sounds and we laid all of that down before the band came in.

With the foundation of the live drum loops and textures in place, the rest of the band already had a bit of a road map for what kind of vibe to go after on each of the songs and we set to chasing after it. Guitarist Mike Payne joined us again and we also had Tony Lucido, one of Nashville’s most sought after bass players. With every song, we asked, “what’s your first instinct for how you would play this song? Okay, now let’s not do that and wonder what else the song could be.” They worked hard on every single track to reach for something that felt original and unexpected, and yet not showy in a way that would be distracting.

John Mays, the head of A&R at Centricity, made me aware that nearly every song spoke of fear. I hadn’t realized that before, but as I look through the lyrics fear has emerged as a theme, as well as the antidotes to fear, which mostly have to do with trust and allowing ourselves to be loved. More on all of that later…

I tried to make a one take video each day to let people hear little pieces of the songs as they were being “born” and I’ve included them here. They’ll probably make more sense when you hear the finished project, but hopefully they give you a little taste of what we’re cooking up for you.

The release date is September 13th and the tentative title is “A Way To See In The Dark”.

Thanks for listening and caring about my music,

Here are the videos:

Day 2: The Sound Of Our Breathing

Day 3: Remind Me Who I Am

Day 4: Good To Be Alive

Day 5: No Thief Like Fear

Day 6: Nothing Is Wasted


19 Comments

  1. Ugly Biscuit

    Seems to me that people have a hard time warming up to seemingly perfect people. Those that appear to have no flaws, inwardly or outwardly.

    That said, i’m watching this last vid and it appears that you have a mild stuttering impediment. (I could be way wrong!!) If however that is the case, it makes you even more likeable. People can relate to flaws.

    I’ve got a bunch!!!

    So, in short, I think I like you. I’m going to look in to your body of work straightaway…….and we may or may not have a faint speech problem to thank for all of this.

    My brain doesn’t work like most peoples…….please don’t misunderstand my small bit of truth hidden inside of some feeble waggery!

    I mean no disrespect.
    Blessings!!

  2. Ugly Biscuit

    Dude, you look like you were about to hit your head on the door frame…must be tall?

    I’m new to your music but i like it alot!!! Great work!

    Proverbs 16:24

  3. eric w.

    I’m so excited to see that The Sound of Our Breathing is going to be on a record. I heard you play it at BTLOG, and loved it. (You won me over at that concert). Can’t wait for the new record. September can’t come soon enough!

  4. Jen

    Rowdy Irish pub band. That is all. =)
    Yes, I am excited to hear this thing!

    Ugly Biscuit: first, can I call you Jon? Calling you Ugly feels awkward. 😛
    Second, glad you’re discovering Jason’s music in time for the new record!

  5. Jason Gray

    @jasongray

    You are, in fact, correct. I am both very tall (6’6 since the 8th grade. Awkward) and have a speech impediment (awkwardness continues). Thanks for liking my music :- )

  6. Rushmore

    Hey Jason:

    Really enjoy the posts and the thought behind them – enjoy the songs more however. We can’t wait for the new record. Can I still call it a record??? My family and I are coming to Michigan to see you next week and my 10 year old is completely pumped. I asked him how far he was willing to drive to see Jason Gray live and he said “a million miles”. I told him that even if I drove fast we only had about 10 hours in the car to get to the show and he said “that’s ALL?”. I wish he’d gotten his enthusiastic sense of travel from me.

    In any case, please show up on time, be absurdly tall (I share your pain), stutter as much as you wish and play for a long, long time. Maybe that’s a good opportunity to work out the rest of the tracks for the new album and play every single iteration of Everything Sad Is Coming Untrue (hint, nudge).

  7. PaulH

    Such a treat to be included with your video diary of recording, Jason.
    I like what i have heard so far and was struck by the punch and tone of the drums.
    Thanks Jason

    Jen – I too hear No Theif Like Fear and immediately heard an Irish Pub tune! Now that would be cool to hear that with flute, mandolin, violin, and hand drums.

  8. Ugly Biscuit

    Hey Jason, I can beat box the theme to “Sanford and Son,” i also play the drums too. We need to get my vocal drums in one of your songs! SUHWEET!

    Take it to the streets as it were!

    I’m only six five, so you probably don’t hang out with us lesser folk. LOL

  9. Ugly Biscuit

    Hey Jason, back in my 20’s, i got to play Jesus for about a decade off and on. They were some pretty big productions too.

    I told the Chior Director, “Are you sure you want me? You know, being 6’5″?”
    He said, “Well, at least this way, they’ll definately be able to see you on stage!”

    We had to get some 6’7″ greek dudes to play the soldeirs just so i wouldn’t look like the Hulk out there on stage!

    One time, they squirted too much blood in my hands and i almost fell off the cross and killed Mary!
    (This of course was NOT in any Bible translation that i’m aware of)

  10. Jen

    Jon/UB: cool. Because I started to shorten it to Ugly and thought it looked weird. 🙂

    Paul: I know, right? So fun.

  11. Tony Heringer

    Jgray! What i’ve watched looks great. Thanks for posting the updates. Can’t wait to hear the new stuff live or recorded whichver happens to come first. So happy for your success this past year. I was in Jackson, MS last week and just before I got out to go run they said “coming up next Jason Gray. So, I decided to put you on my MP3 player for my run. That record never gets old my man.

  12. Loren

    Thanks for the first-hand glimpse into studio recording! I probably would never see the inside of a recording studio otherwise 🙂 .

    It’s only through the Rabbit Room that I’ve started to “get to know” your music, Jason, and it’s definitely growing on me. I love the lyrics, and I greatly appreciate everything you’ve written here in the Rabbit Room. Now music style–that’s the growing part! (But that’s not a question of your skill, it’s just my personality and tastes.)

    I saw Rushmore’s comment about your touring in Michigan and quickly looked up where and when. Bay City’s only a few hours north of us but I don’t think we’ll be able to pull off next weekend. I wish! I haven’t been to a concert in years and yours would be a good place to start!

    Loved this comment of yours (because it sounds like something I’ve been learning recently), and I’m looking forward to your future post:
    “It was the closest I’ve come to striking that balance of believing that it wasn’t all up to me, and yet working diligently as though it were. That sounds very Calvinist of me, doesn’t it? Well, I don’t mean it to be necessarily; it somehow feels to me both more and less than that. But that’s another blog…”

  13. JWitmer

    Jason,

    What strikes me in this post is your thankful heart. I hope that, no matter how amazingly your career explodes, you never lose that.

    …I wish that I could live thankful for every breath. All is grace. Thank you for reminding me of this.

  14. Debra Henderson

    Jason, it was so fun to see you the other night. I got caught up in the tasks of the evening and I missed out on whole sections of what was happening on stage including a couple of your new songs…SO sad to have missed them!

    I love that you said this, “It was the closest I’ve come to striking that balance of believing that it wasn’t all up to me, and yet working diligently as though it were… But that’s another blog…”

    Here’s hoping you do write that blog as I was wrestling exactly there on Friday night…trying, and trying and yet trusting God to be faithful. He was by the way, very faithful- I’ll send you an e-mail on those details.

    I’m especially anxious to hear all of “Nothing is Wasted” (it’s one that I missed). I know it will cross our story as so many of your songs have.

    Thanks for the glimpses into the new album…only 133 more days and counting.

  15. vizwhiz

    Jason,
    Just reading back into the older posts a bit and found this one…awesome stuff!
    We love your work and look forward to the new album.
    (pssst…can we pre-order it anywhere?????) 😉

    This is the upward swing in your career – hang on for the ride! 🙂

    I think Paul might have had trouble with “N’s” too… 2 Cor 10:10

    PS – COME TO FLORIDA!! (I suppose you can do a southern tour when the snow starts piling up!)

  16. Laura

    I have Andrew Peterson to thank for getting me to your music, Jason. Quoting what Andrew said, “I just can’t get enough of Jason Gray.”

    At the time, I just couldn’t get enough of AP, so I took the “rabbit trail” that led to ME not being able to get enough of Jason Gray.

    Thank you, Lord, for speaking to me, edifying and building me up through AP and JG.

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