One of Christian music's premiere singer/songwriters, Jason Gray, is scheduled to release his new studio album, Where The Light Gets In, June 17th. Gray worked with nine high-profile producers on the project, including Jason Ingram (Chris Tomlin, Matt Maher), Ben Glover (MercyMe, for KING & COUNTRY) and Colby Wedgeworth (Jordan Feliz, Lincoln Brewster). Where The Light Gets In features 12 new songs plus his Top 15 single from 2015, "Glow In The Dark." The first single, "Sparrows," is going for adds at radio on April 1st and already has airplay at two key outlets, K-LOVE and WFRN/South Bend, IN. The full album presents a more hope-centered message than Gray's last three albums and shows God's redemptive presence even in the midst of difficulties.
"My last album was all about grief," says Gray, "and so I wanted to make a statement right at the beginning of this record that it's about hope and that it's got some fun in it too. So I put the pop song 'Learning' at the beginning of the record. I'm usually annoyed by empowerment anthems, which this song is, because I think they can be self-focused and ignore a lot of reality. But in this case I thought, 'I want to tweak the genre to create an empowerment anthem that's based, not on my own power, but on a real confidence in the grace of God.'"
The record's title track, "The Wound is Where the Light Gets In," was co-written with Jars of Clay frontman Dan Haseltine, who is also featured on the song. The tune is a message about suffering and how that can develop into hope even when the worst things happen. Gray has definitely been dealing with devastating issues over the last couple of years that include his stepfather battling cancer, while he and Gray's mom almost lost their home to high medical bills. This followed the 2014 breakup of his marriage and the balancing act of becoming a single dad, while remaining an active touring artist, and providing a stable home for his three sons.
"The subversive irony of the gospel is that if you've gone through depression or divorce or loss or failure or a sickness, you are uniquely equipped to be able to bring mercy to other people going through those same things," explains Gray. "It removes judgment from your life. It removes self-righteousness or misguided opinions. That's what Where the Light Gets In is about. Don't be anxious about the worst thing that happens to you. The message of the resurrection gives hope that even the worst will produce something beautiful in us, and will ultimately help make us who we most want to be."
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If you were to look at the work of all songwriters in Christian music, Jason Gray's would definitely stand out. His lyrics have always been deep and profound, striking listeners with a rare honesty that few writers have accomplished. Shown best in his last album Love Will Have The Final Word, Jason is a master at writing songs about grief, intertwining hope and redemption in every lyric. That quality has made him one of the most respected songwriters in the business and has also made his songs a go-to for anyone who finds themselves needing musical comfort in a hard season.
Jason's newest project Where The Light Gets Infollows suit with incredibly well-written lines of faith in the midst of difficulty. Sparked from personal situations in Jason's own life that produced hard-earned priceless lessons, these songs were birthed from vulnerable places in the writer's heart.
Peppy opener "Learning" was a step outside of Jason's comfort zone, proving that he really can tackle any type of song with his songwriting skills. More pop-driven than most of Jason's previous work, the song serves as an empowerment anthem (which Jason says usually annoy him given their self-reliance), but with a twist to focus more on Christ's power in and through us.
Current radio single "Sparrows" is striking a chord with fans, sending a message of hope and using Biblical truths to remind listeners that they are constantly cared for. Hopeful "I Will Rise Again" displays Jason's versatile voice as he sings out encouraging lyrics of coming through a hard time and being stronger and better in the end, much like redemptive "Stolen" tells the story of how God often has to break us to bring us to the place He wants us.
Another peppier addition, "Resurrection" is a bubbly track that shows Gray's signature grace-centered songwriting: "I believe in resurrection / I believe in second chances / Love's just beginning to rewrite the ending." One of several highlights on the album, "More Yours" showcases a deep message of surrender underneath an upbeat chorus that will easily get stuck in your head. Standout ballad "Death Without A Funeral" is sonically and even lyrically reminiscent of "Not Right Now" on his last album. A song that equates grieving the silent death of things inside the heart to the visible death of a person, this is Jason's profound, vulnerable and emotionally moving songwriting at its very best.
"The Wound Is Where The Light Gets In" follows in the same fashion, a deep ballad about redemption through loss, pain and grieving-- perhaps the topics Jason writes most passionately about. "Where We Go From Here," another remarkable track, once again puts Jason's creative lyrics on the forefront: "You love to use the broken things to put together broken things, just like it was always in Your plan / as broken as I say I am, You see me like broken crayons / they still color beauty in Your hands." "Learning To Be Found" also proves to be a strong moment, giving a slight nod to the timeless hymn "Amazing Grace" and speaking on the importance of learning that we don't have to do life alone.
"Celebrate" and previously released single "Glow In The Dark" find the album coming to a close with a much more pop-driven sound than we often hear from Jason before slowing down a bit with "Thank You For Everything." The song feels fitting to end with as it serves as gratitude for each moment of life: "when I look at the world around me and breathe in the breath You gave / every beat of my heart is singing 'thank You for everything' / if You lead me to still waters / if I'm caught in the hurricane / wherever You lead, I'm singing 'thank You for everything.'"
The Bottom Line:Where The Light Gets In further solidifies Jason Gray's place in my opinion as the most gifted songwriter in the industry. His profound, deep, catchy and meaningful lyrics are often comfort to hurting hearts, proving why music is the powerful force we've come to appreciate it as. With truly not a single bad song in the mix, Jason has crafted yet another memorable album. His talent continues to grow as he puts the most vulnerable pieces of his heart into his music. That vulnerability is indeed paying off as I'm sure this will be an album fans quickly come to love and find hope through.
Song To Download Now: "The Wound Is Where The Light Gets In" (Get it on iTunes here.)