For singer-songwriter J. Reynolds, the release of Fire & Flood has been all about timing.
"This whole project was a lesson on God's timing," says Reynolds from his home in western New York State. "Honestly, I think it's the first time I truly trusted him with something like this--these songs, the recording, the release--and just let go of my own agenda."
When asked what brought him to this place, Reynolds is quick to cite the hardship that he's experienced in life. "It's really because of trials in my personal life," he says. "I had no choice but to give this project to him from the start. Which isn't that what a worship album should be about anyway?"
Any sooner or any later and it may not have worked.
The songs for Fire & Flood began when Reynolds started co-writing with longtime friend Brennan Blowers about 8 years ago.
"We started with We Lift You Up and Palm of Your Hand, which we played at our home church. The songs were so well received that we kept thinking we should write more and record them. It took seven years to get to a place where that made sense in our lives and our experiences. But any sooner or any later and it may not have worked."
The album artfully marries organic with synthetic, drawing from Reynolds' mastery of rich ambient tone combined with digital precision.
"There are acoustic guitars and other vintage instruments, but a ton of synths and programmed loops," he says, pulling up a sample of Your Kingdom Come on his laptop. "I am very entertained and enamored with layers of sounds, so I and wanted to make a record that I would actually listen to as an artist." True to Reynolds' self-assessment, the song's guitar parts dance effortlessly upon deeply layered pads. "However, at the end of the day, we wanted every song to be approachable enough for a solo guitar or piano with a room of worshippers."
I lived a pretty safe and comfortable life, but going through some fires in the last year or two broke me down to where I knew I needed Jesus.
Reynolds notes that the record's theme is about Christ carrying believers through life--through the fires and the floods of a broken world.
"This means some of the songs are dark musically," he explains, "but that comes from a place of asking 'Who am I, God, that You would know my name, and lift me up out of despair, and walk with my hand in Yours?'" But he insists that it's those very same fires that help to refine Christians and deepen their acknowledgment of needing God. "I lived a pretty safe and comfortable life, but going through some fires in the last year or two broke me down to where I knew I needed Jesus if I was going to move forward."
"The bridge in 'Shelter' sums it up for me every time," he adds. "It says, 'Every word that You have ever said is true / You are the rock that I have held onto / I know You hear me when I call upon Your name / You are my shelter'."
When asked how he hopes the album will connect with people, Reynolds points out that "there are certain people for whom music is the best way to connect with God, but that they may not be satisfied by the usual flavors on the menu."
"My hope," he concludes, "is that the band and I were able to bridge a gap between the singable corporate worship songs that we all know and love with unconventional elements of surprise and wonder."
Fire & Flood is available October 13, 2017 from online retailers everywhere. Visit jreynoldsmusic.com to listen and purchase.