I asked Matt Redman if he could fill us in on some of the background to his latest album, We Shall Not Be Shaken, which I reviewed yesterday. His responses give some insight into the songwriting process, as well as Matt’s humility.
Themes of God’s sovereignty pervade the songs on this album. Why did you choose to make that focus for this album?
I had a sense that many people right now need re-assurance that God is in control in their lives. So many recent events, particularly economic ones, have reminded us that much of this life and this world is fragile, temporary and changing. We’ve heard so many statistics about mortgage payments defaults and unemployment – but these aren’t just facts and figures – this is real people’s lives. So into this environment I wanted the songs to inject some truth – that in contrast to all of this, God is unchanging, unfailing, unshifting and unshakeable. Jesus is the solid ground and firm foundations we can build our lives upon.
Unlike previous albums, all the songs are co-writes. Was that intentional, and if so, what were the benefits and drawbacks (if any)?
I loved the team dynamic. I wrote many other songs, but this time the co-written ones rose to the top of the pile, and that I think is a good thing. Not many things in the kingdom of God are meant to be carried out lone-ranger style all of the time!
How did you choose Robert Marvin as a producer and what did you enjoy about working with him on the project?
I came across him a while back – he’s a real worshipper but had never worked on a congregational style worship album until my last project. I also loved many of the other projects he’d produced, especially Mat Kearney. This time we went into the album process on such a strong footing, as we had a couple of years of friendship in the mix this time.
What song on the album is the most personally meaningful to you?
It’s hard, to say, but maybe ‘You alone can rescue’ – as we’ve had the privilege of singing this in 18 different countries already, and had a very encouraging response to it.
If there any song that has a unique story behind it?
Maybe the opening song, ‘This is how we know’. It’s based on John 3:16 and 1 John 3:16 – so easy references to remember! I tried to finish this song for 3 months or so but had no chorus. My wife Beth came into the songwriting process, and 45 minutes later the song was finished!
Which song took the longest to write, and which song took the shortest?
The longest was ‘Gloria’ – Jonas Myrin and I had never settled on a chorus for this, then one day it all fell into place. That song probably took 18 months to complete (as we live in different nations!). The quickest was ‘How great is Your faithfulness’ – Jonas brought the beginnings of a chorus idea, and the verse thoughts came straight away, as did the bridge. It felt like a theme that was in our hearts and minds already, so when the melody started to take shape, the songwriting process flowed really quickly and smoothly. We made a few tweaks and edits afterwards, but most of that song was written within a few hours. It’s not always like that!
You don’t have to have songs being sung around the world to benefit from Matt’s example. Sometimes songs come quickly, sometimes they come slowly. But unless we’re faithful to write, you can be pretty sure they won’t come at all.