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2009: Help Me, And Then… Thank You

January 11, 2010

What a year it was for the Gray family.

I’m a little behind in recapping the year, but I ended ’09 and brought in ’10 in bed with the worst cold I’ve had in years that lasted 3 weeks.  Blech… But it forced me to rest, and so for even a head cold  reasons can be found to be grateful.

This year, after more than three years of writer’s block, we released Everything Sad Is Coming Untrue – a record I feel so grateful for on so many levels.  I got to work with some of my best friends on this record – many of them I esteem so highly that I was often pinching myself to make sure I wasn’t imagining it.  Andys Gullahorn and Osenga, Jason Ingram, Randall Goodgame, Jimmy Abegg… pick any name in the liner notes of my record and I’ll tell why it was so cool I got to work with them. I’ve fallen into good company, indeed.

The first half of `09 was spent in quiet desperation as I feverishly wrote for the record, working against the clock.  I also participated in one of the most rewarding tours I’ve ever been a part of with Sanctus Real, Phil Wickham, Matthew West, Addison Road, WAYFM, and Downhere.  After that, we recorded what I think is the most ambitious record of my career. Then Taya and I spent some time overseas playing for the troops and I also got to spend some extended time with my boys. And then… the record released.

Everything Sad Is Coming Untrue was my most focused effort at making a pop record that we hoped would connect at radio, but that would also be my most personal and artistic statement yet.  Did we succeed?  I never know how to gage these things, but I’ll tell you that I’ve never been more grateful for a batch of songs.  I’m so gratified that songs like both “More Like Falling In Love” and “The Golden Boy & The Prodigal” – songs that represent both ends of the spectrum of what we were aiming for – feel at home on the same record.  And then there’s also the two title tracks.  I worked hard for these songs.

The response from my fans and supporters has been generous, with most people telling me they think it’s my best record yet.  Reviewers were kind to me, too, with the exception of only a few who were still kind, but who thought I’d gone too pop (which was a complement in a way, since the goal was to make a legitimate pop record!)

My favorite review came from Kevan Breitinger who I thought perfectly got to the heart of what we were hoping to accomplish with this record when she wrote:

The title, referencing a delightful “Lord of the Rings” moment, says it all: wonder-filled, imaginative, and deeply reflective. From a straight-up pop album, no less. Jason Gray pours a lot of theology into these thirteen original tracks, but it’s a ‘spoonful-of-sugar’ approach, resulting in songs that are both radio-friendly and spiritually satisfying. A less honest artist couldn’t pull it off, but it’s hard to resist an album with this much heart.

The title track refers to God’s power to turn everything on its head, including the damage of sin, both personal and universal, and “Part 1” amazingly manages to convey the expansive power of grace through its magical melding of organic and programming dynamics. A brave attempt, beautifully executed.  “Part 2” is a quietly ecstatic look at the same miracle, and you gotta admire Gray’s boldness in going back twice to the same unspeakable well.

Other standout tracks include “The Golden Boy & The Prodigal,” another brave track that examines the shame carried by our secret selves, enriched greatly by Gray’s vulnerability.  “Use Me, I’m Yours” is an airy ballad of consecration, and Gray slices open another vein of honest confession on the irresistible “How I Ended Up Here,” a sweetly funny story of call-screening and hiding behind lobster tanks. Trust me, it makes sense, like so much of this worthy album. And I’m not even a pop-lover.

I couldn’t have said it better, thanks Kevan.

To work as hard as we did on this record, it’s so gratifying to see it find its intended mark.  After the record released, we hit the road for a series of CD release shows to speak of the hope of how God makes sad things come untrue, and in 2009 there were many of us who needed to hear that there isn’t anything beyond God’s redemptive reach that he can’t heal, restore, and even make beautiful.  Repeatedly I told the story of Immanuel, the young man whose anger was eating him alive since witnessing his father’s murder during the horrors of the Rwandan genocide.  And how he was set free of it when he gave his life to Christ, going on to find his father’s murderer to forgive him, lead him to Christ, and befriend him.  This is the Kingdom Magic that is at work everyday, Lord, give us the eyes to see it…

We were also blessed to hear others share their own redemptive stories of God’s grace making sad things come untrue in their own lives.  It is a gift to be a part of those kinds of conversations. How could I be anything but grateful?

As if all that isn’t enough, the year came to a close with my highest profile tour yet on the horizon – going out with Jeremy Camp in January – and encouraging news about the new single, “More Like Falling In Love”, and it’s warm reception at radio – after so many years of doing this, could it be that at long last we have a solid song that might connect at radio?  Time will tell… (more on this in my next post.)

The last song to be written for the record, “Help Me, Thank You”, seems prescient to me now. The year began with a desperate prayer of “help me, help me” as I dug in deep to break through my long winter of writer’s block and find the songs for this record. And now as I look back at all that has happened since, the year closes with a quiet, humble “thank you, thank you” for God’s goodness to us in 2009.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 17, 2010 7:35 pm

    I wish I had adequate words to express how thankful I am for this cd, but I don’t. Not really. I will say, when I go out and buy your cd to give to numerous people as Christmas gifts, because they NEED to hear the messages on there, that says something. Each and every song, and I mean EVERY song, speaks something to me. I’ve always been the ‘weird one’ who’s ‘into music’ and not everybody gets that. Music with a message speaks to me. Sometimes in ways that a sermon or plain words cannot.
    Since I saw you live (hearing your music for the first time) the last night of your tour with SR and AR, I think I’ve listened to ‘Everything Sad is Coming Untrue’ daily. No lie. There is something in your songs, the message God gave you to speak, that I need to hear. I’ve gotten some of it, but HE continues to speak to me through each listening. I appreciate your ministry, and your openness. The best is when all five of my family members are in the car and we’re all singing along together. I’m praying the theme of God’s grace and mercy woven so skillfully throughout your songs is sinking deep into their hearts.

  2. Candace permalink
    January 25, 2010 1:19 pm

    I’m a huge Jason Gray fan! I’m so excited he joined the WAY-FM “Speaking Louder Than Before” tour with Jeremy Camp, Chasen, and The Afters. Did you know that they are giving away a FREE Jeremy Camp download? Click on for the free download. Here you can also find information about the upcoming tour, watch a music video, and purchase your tickets! Enjoy!

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