Thunder, the highly anticipated eighth recording by acclaimed singer/songwriter and author Rick Lee James, will be available beginning February 8. Produced by Chris Hoisington of Brothers McClurg at Old Bear Studio in Buffalo, New York, Thunder features 10 songs, including the title cut co-written by the late Rich Mullins along with renowned songsmiths Lowell Alexander and Phil Naish.
"It was an honor and challenge to work on a Rich Mullins song that had not been recorded before," said James of the title cut, penned in the '70s for Mullins' band, Zion. "After Rich went to be with the Lord, Lowell and Phil rewrote the verses and added a new arrangement. With the imagery in the chorus of Jesus clearing the temple, I knew it would be a fitting way to begin the album."
Thunder takes the listener on a liturgical path, marked by Scripture readings and a passage from the Book of Common Prayer. "I wanted liturgy to guide the journey of this album," James explains. "By the Holy Spirit, liturgy will lead us to the country of the resurrection, but the journey will surely take us through the valley of the shadow of death. By beginning the album with a reading from Matthew 21, I hope to make clear that we are about to begin a joyous but difficult journey. As we encounter Jesus on the way, the temples of our hearts may be in need of having tables overturned. As Jesus draws us near, we may find there is baggage that needs to be driven out."
In addition to the title cut, Thunder features seven songs written or co-written by James, many of them inspired by the artist's deeply personal journey. "After four miscarriages, our hearts have been so wounded that I wonder if they will ever heal," James says of "The Lord Is Our Shepherd." "After one of the miscarriages, when once again our child's heartbeat could not be found, I remember just holding my wife in the hospital bed and praying Psalm 23. We prayed that prayer in spite of how we felt. I still pray it daily in the hope that at the Resurrection, the renewal of all things when Christ returns, that we will someday meet and hold these babies we have lost. This song is our very personal story, and I hope it will help others come out of the shadows and embrace their own pain."
"Be My All" also has special meaning for James. "My dear friend Randy Cox sent me the lyrics to this song when my grandmother was dying in the hospital," he recounts. "As my grandmother slowly slipped away, in between being at her bedside, praying with her, and singing songs of the faith together, I would spend time in the hospital chapel where I created 'Be My All' from Randy's words. It turned out to be one of my favorite collaborations and I was privileged to share the song at my grandmother's funeral."
Thunder also includes the Charles Wesley classic, "Love Divine, All Loves Excelling (Perfect Love)," with a new chorus by James, along with "My Master Was So Very Poor," with lyrics by Henry Lee and music and arrangement by James.
Rick Lee James is an acclaimed singer/songwriter, worship leader, author, speaker and podcast host. James' recordings include Workin' On Commission, A Little Lower Than The Angels, Christmas Songs, Changes, Basement Psalms Live, and Hymns, Prayers & Invitations. His 2018 hit, "Advent Hymn," remained at #1 on Christian Radio Weekly's "CRW Adds Chart" for seven consecutive weeks. The song has been played on nearly 700 radio stations in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
James' book, Out Of The Depths: A Songwriter's Journey Through The Psalms, is used as a textbook for the National Praise & Worship Institute at Trevecca Nazarene University. He has also been a contributor to Worship Leader magazine, Holiness Today, The Table and Worshiplife.com. His podcast, "Voices In My Head," has featured such leading singer/songwriters as Andrew Peterson, Sara Groves, Jason Gray, Michael Card and Paul Baloche.