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Nashville - Round 2 

I just returned from another trip to Nashville, TN to record some more music!  I worked again with producer/musician Charlie Lowell of Jars of Clay.  I have to say, what we're working on right now is amazing!  I am SO EXCITED to share these songs with you!

These songs are richer and more beautiful than anything I have ever done before.  I think the reason is because these songs really mean something to me.  I think for the longest time I have written songs about things.  That's all fine and good, but these songs are coming from the depths of who I am and what I have experienced.  These are my raw feelings and thoughts poured out into words and sounds that capture what I've been going through the past couple of years.  We worked really hard to make sure that the sounds we picked and the vibe we got from the performances matched the depth of the emotion that is so intricately woven into these songs.  I had my wife Lindsay there as our emotional barometer (and also for vocals!).  She experienced what these songs are all about as intensely as I have.  Even listening to the rough cuts of what we did last week make me feel it all so deeply.  I think that means we hit the mark!

It was also SO COOL to have Phil Moore in one morning to play bass on these!  Phil is the best dude you'll ever meet and he is one of the best musicians I have ever been around.  Phil plays around Nashville and tours with Mat Kearney.  We brought him in to mainly play on one song.  He played on that song and then started putting away his bass as we played him the second song.  He listened for a minute and immediately took his bass back out and recorded something so cool that I would have never even thought to have come up with.  That's the beauty of working in community and bringing friends into the process.  They come at these things from different angles and hear and see it in different ways and elevate them to another level.  I'm very thankful to have spent time with Phil that morning and look forward to getting to know him more and having in back for future projects.

I also gotta say that Charlie Lowell is a one amazing guy too.  He totally gets my vibe and enhances everything I send him.  That's the mark of a really good producer.  He is so easy to work with and there are great conversations in the midst of it all as well.  Charlie is also such a great artist and comes at these from a different perspective too.  I love working with him.  I'm so thankful for him and for the friend that he's becoming and I'm thankful for the friend that hooked us up as well (I'm looking at you, Joel Tanis!).  

Nashville feels like home already.  It's so fun being around people who are doing what you're doing in a place that, as far as I can tell, is about building relationships, hanging out on front porches, singing songs, drinking coffee, eating good food, and moving at a little slower pace.  I can't wait to get back and continue making music and making friends.

Stay tuned for more news on when you'll be able to hear these songs!

The Story Behind "Lead Me" 

 
Believe it or not this is an old song of mine I wrote back when I was in college.  I was listening to the song, "Little Heaven," by Toad the Wet Sprocket (my favorite band) and was inspired to write a song in a similar groove.  So I pulled out my guitar, put some chords together and, in a stream-of-conscience style of writing, sang whatever came to mind and this is the result.  This song sort of got shelved for a long time, but anyone who listened to it really liked it.  So when it came time to pick out some songs for this new project, we decided to see what we could do with an old song.  It turned out to be better than I could have ever imagined it.  We created a beautiful soundscape with a nylon guitar, synths, drum programming, and a cello part that brought something hauntingly beautiful to it.

When I wrote this song I wasn't really sure what it was about.  There are obvious themes of leaving the past behind and moving into something new.  But the younger version of me hadn't really experienced all this song is getting at.

As I've stepped back into this song I think there is a desire for something unique here.  There is a definitely a desire to move ahead in life, but not until the right time.  The first two lines of the second verse capture this well: Take what I've seen and felt and throw it all away // But not 'til the fire has gone and not 'til I find myself.  There's an obvious desire to want to move on and be done, but there's an understanding that the discontent right now might be doing something important in preparing for that next phase of life.

I feel all of this so intensely right now.  I am so ready to be done with the season of life I'm in.  These past two years have been the worst as my wife has been dealing with horrendous health issues that have made our lives unbearable at times.  I'm ready to take what I've seen and felt this year and throw it all away.  At the same time, there is something profound happening in our lives in the midst of this.  We're changing, dealing with the junk in our lives that has been picking at us and weighing us down.  It's a process of refinement and redemption and, if I'm honest, I don't want this season to fully end until it has done it's work.  I want to be free and I want to be whole.  So I wait to be led out of the old into the new.  I'm sure it'll happen at just the right time.

I hope you enjoy this song and don't move too quickly out of the old into the new.  Let it do its work.  It'll will happen for you at just the right time too.

New Single coming January 18 

I'm excited to announce that I have a new single coming out January 18, 2019 called, "Lead Me."  This is the second song I recorded with Charlie Lowell (Jars of Clay) at Gray Matters Studio in Nashville, TN this past summer.  This song features guitar, atmospheric synths, some cool drum programming and cello played by Matt Nelson (Steven Curtis Chapman, Newsboys, Natalie Grant, Jars of Clay, Nichole Nordeman).  It's a beautifully haunting song that sonically captures what the lyrics describe as a desire to be led into something new.  This is the perfect song to release into the wild in the new year!  I hope you'll love it as much as I do.

This song will be available to stream and download on January 18, 2019 on my website, Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, Google Play, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, YouTube, and anywhere else you get your music online.

Happy New Year! Bring on 2019 

It's safe to say that 2018 had both the worst moments of my life and also the greatest moments of my life.  How in the world does that happen?!  I was taken beyond what I could handle (If anyone tells you that you won't be given any more than you can handle, it's a lie).  There was tears, rage, frustration, anger, hopelessness, fear, and broken bones (I broke my hand).  If I knew what 2018 had in store in terms of the bad stuff, I don't think I could have gone ahead with it.  At the same time, for the first time in my life I felt like I was set on my own path...finally!  I was writing music at a prolific rate.  I was meeting amazing people who are doing the same thing.  I got to make some friends in Nashville and record music in a space where I felt like I belonged.  I had been dreaming about doing that for as long as I can remember.  For me, this past year has summed up what life is all about: the good and the bad all wrapped up together.  

So how in the world do we navigate a life like that? One of my favorite moments in the life of Jesus is when he's talking to a bunch of people and he uses this phrase..."you may have heard it said, but I say to you..."  Phil Collins once wrote (yes, I'm referencing Jesus AND Phil Collins - that's how I roll!), "We always need to hear both sides of the story." There's a story we've all bought into that narrates our life for us.  It dictates how we view and live our lives.  We can't control the events of our lives.  Things happen.  But what or who we listen to to make sense of it can have a world of difference.  I heard both sides of the story this year in my journey, but the further I went along the story became a little more clear and this is what I started to hear:  "You may heave heard it said that you have to stay strong, but I say to you it's OK to be weak."  "You may have heard it said that you have to be the one to clean up all the messes, but I say to you be still and ask for help."  "You may have heard it said that this is hopeless, but I say to you, it'll get better - hold on." 

As I look back on this past year and try to make sense out of this story, I feel like there has been a guide, a narrator, an author even who is more good than the other (I know that's bad grammar but I think it captures the idea best).  Stuff is going to happen.  The good and bad are all mixed together in our experiences of life, but there is something deep in me that wants to hear the good story.  It must have sucked to have been Frodo bearing the weight of the ring, but that is ultimately told as a good story.  Darth Vader was the most terrifying villian in the galaxy, but that is also ultimately told as a good story.  Harry Potter literally had a mark on him his whole life, but, again, that ultimately is told as a good story.  The good and bad are all there. It's who is telling the story.  Who is making sense of all these things? 

You may have heard it said that the story is all for nothing.  But I say to you, there is more.  May The New Year tell us a better story of who we are and what we can be.  Hold on, it could be terrifyingly awesome!

Happy New Year!
Jeremy

The First Song From the Nashville Recording Session 

Hey everyone!  The first song we recorded in Nashville this past summer is coming out Oct. 16! I am so excited to share this song with you!  I had the help of producer Charlie Lowell (Jars of Clay).  This song has a little bit of a new style for me, but I think you'll find all the ingredients of my music in here.  I can't wait for you to hear it!

Tell your friends and families about it...and tell them that it's gonna be alright.  I think that's a message we all long to hear, know, and feel these days.  Whether you're a student dealing with the pressure of fitting in...whether you're in your 20's trying to figure out what to do with your life...whether you've got a young family and are desperately trying to keep it all in balance...whether you're an empty nester discovering who you are again...whether you're nearing the end of your life and wondering what is beyond...we all long to be told that it's gonna be alright. 

This song came out of the last year of life for me and my wife as everything came to a crashing halt with my wife having some significant health issues that could not be identified.  We both needed to hear over and over and over again that it was going to be alright.

I hope that this song (and all my music) is the sound of peace ringing through the terror reminding you and helping you to feel that it's going to be alright. 

New single, LEARNING THE HARD WAY, is out! 

My new single, Learning the Hard Way, is now out!  Check it out and, if you wouldn't mind, share it!

This is a cover of a Gin Blossoms song that I recorded earlier this summer.  I don't usually do covers, but this song just got me because it really helped to give words to what my wife and I have been experiencing this past year.  She has been dealing with an undiagnosed illness for a year and it has hit us hard.  Our life was put on hold as we were bounced around from doctor to doctor, having test upon test run.  All the while fighting with doctors and insurance to take us seriously.  It pushed us beyond our limits - to the point where one day I threw an ink pen at our kitchen cabinets and immediately punched a wall and broke my hand.  Not a great thing when you're a guitar player! 

Throughout all this we've had our junk laid out before us and have had to deal with some hard things - not only physically but mentally, emotionally, and relationally.  I fully believe we're better for it.  I also believe you can't get to true goodness without going through hell.  That just seems to be the way it goes.  I'm not sure there's any other way to learn than the hard way.  So that's why this song stuck out to me and why I felt compelled to put my own version of it out there.

When I asked my wife what the cover art for this song should be she said it should be ink splatter - like what our kitchen looked like after I threw that pen.  She said that moment was kind of the epitome of our experience this past year.  There might have been easier ways to learn about expressing feelings and frustration than breaking your hand and splattering ink all over the kitchen.  But, it's what I needed and it was definitely the hard way. 

I hope you enjoy this song and I hope you won't be afraid to go through the darkness to get to the dawn.  It's not fun.  It's not what we would choose.  But it's good.  And goodness seems worth it to me.

New Single on the Way 

I've got a new single coming out in September to tide you over until we've got tunes ready from Nashville. Here's a teaser from the cover art! Stay tuned for more details!

September 2018 Playlist 

NEW Spotify Playlist for SEPTEMBER! 

Check out some of the music that is inspiring me these days.  It includes indie-pop and singer-songwriter groups like The Band CAMINO, Fickle Friends, Paperwhite, The Collection, Wilder Adkins, and more! Follow this playlist and enjoy it all month long (heck, for the rest of your life if you want!)

 

August 2018 Playlist 

Summer is still with us and while it is I've put together a playlist for those late afternoons and evenings as we're grilling out, cruising down the road, chillin at the beach, or hanging out with friends. 

This playlist includes some of the artists I've been listening to lately.  Pop bands like Flor, Walk the Moon, and KYKO.  Singer-songwriters like Matthew Perriman Jones, Hannah Miller, and Vienna Teng. 

So get your get your headphones on, get the stereo cranking, or tell Alexa to get it together and play the Jeremy Hoekstra August 2018 playlist.  You're gonna love it!