HeartStrings album Recording Blogs (2010) Uncategorized

Dreams & Making Albums

Greetings to you, the good people of the land of the interweb. It’s a great pleasure to have been asked by Dave and Jono at LTTM to do some guest blogging for the site. I’ve got a new album, Heart Strings, out on November 22nd and in the run-up to the release I thought I’d write pieces about the process of making the album, some of the highs and the lows, to give some insights about the great things about being a musician who is a Christian, and some of the not so great stuff too.

I thought I’d start with the theme of dreams for this first one. Dreams are something we all have. Some of us want to be musicians, some of us footballers, or film stars, or TV evangelists (if that’s you, it’s time for a re-think), but we all have dreams at some stage. Even God had a dream, which was realised in the beauty of creation, and He has a dream for the reconciliation and restoration of all that He has made into the relationship of true life, hope, love and freedom that we were made, and redeemed for.

Well, my dream was always to be a musician, from the first time, at age 13 or so, that I played a song I’d written in public, I knew that what I wanted to do was write songs and play them to people. Even though I thought I was pretty rubbish at it, it gave me such a joy to play that I carried on anyway. So, then my dream became to release a record, which I did in 2003 with FreeSlave, and help from Whizz Kidz enabling me to write and record Project Freedom, which was followed the next year by Remember the Day, and a couple of years after that by Songs for the Dying and the Save My Day EP. During that time, I was privileged to travel all over the UK and Ireland, and have my songs bought and listened to by people all over the world, as we, as a band, got to the point of being featured on Radio One and playing gigs in nice places like Trafalgar Square, and I was asked to be a Cultural Ambassador for Britain’s 2012 Paralympics, as one of the few wheelchair users active on the music scene in the UK. We were blessed to be able to take our songs to a lot of places that Christians don’t get to go, and make a difference in some lives.

Sadly, around 2007, things started to go wrong. I don’t know if it was because I got more concerned with having good hair than a good heart, or if that particular season just naturally came to an end, but it seemed to fizzle out all of a sudden, just when we were on the cusp of big things. Even with the release of Circles, my first solo record, which received a lot of acclaim critically and from fans, something seemed like it was missing, not quite adding up. It was in this context that I set to work, towards the end of 2008 on what became Heart Strings. Back then, I thought, vainly, that this record would be the one that would finally ‘break’ me. Certainly I, and my brilliant team of musicians and producers worked hard on it, I am very happy indeed with the finished record, and I hope sincerely that you like it when you come to hear it. It’s the best thing I’ve ever done, and, I think, a very good album.

Thing is, God’s dream isn’t for me to be an amazing musician. It’s not His dream for you either. Neither is it His dream that I get rich, or that the whole world thinks I’m the coolest four-wheeled person on the planet. No, God’s desire is for relationship with me, for my life to be submitted to Him and for me to live daily seeking to follow in His way. Music is important, and can be crucial in leading people to and encouraging people’s relationships with God, and also simply as a means of enjoyment, but I needed to learn that it wasn’t as a musician that God wanted me to be defined, but as a child of His. Wherever you are today, His primary call on your life is that you be a child of His, and love Him as He loves you. What comes out of that life of love can only be more fruitful as a result.

It is from within this developing sense of identity that Heart Strings, the finished album, has emerged. As a picture of where I’ve been, and where I am now, I think it’s about as complete a piece as I could manage at the moment, and I can’t wait for you all to hear it.

Next time I’ll write about some of the songs, the recording process, and some of the fun that I’ve had recently trying to work out the best way to release the album, but for now I want to thank you for reading, supporting my music and the music of other people who are seeking to follow Jesus, encourage you to check out my stuff, and most of all, to take some time today to consider this man Jesus, whose dream for your life was so outrageously astonishing that He changed the course of human history, just so that He could spend eternity with you.   Read the blog here.