Tony Cummings reports on singer/songwriter AUDREY ASSAD and her soon-to-be-released 'Evergreen' album
A great deal has happened to singer, songwriter, pianist and author Audrey Assad since Cross Rhythms featured the Nashville-based artist. Her 'Fortunate Fall' album of that year was followed by the EP 'Death, Be Not Proud' in 2014 and the 'Inheritance' album in standard and Deluxe versions in 2016, these being largely new renditions of traditional church hymns such as "Holy, Holy, Holy" and "Be Now My Vision". Now on 23rd February Audrey will be releasing her first new album of all new songs in four years, 'Evergreen'.
Said the singer/songwriter, "I hope that 'Evergreen' is a healing oil in the wounds of whoever comes across it. I am stumbling towards health and wholeness and I desire that for anyone who hears this music. I recognize that some of the themes and stylistic choices are perhaps slightly different than where I have been camping as an artist for the past few years - but I am hopeful that it will be a solace and sanctuary for anyone who needs peace and joy in their lives. It has been a labour of hard-won love and emerged from the deepest parts of my spirit."
The idea for the new album was conceptualized in the summer of 2016 when Assad reignited her musical friendship with "I Shall Not Want" co-writer Bryan Brown, who co-wrote and co-produced "Evergreen", the very first song from the sessions that cemented the album's title. Recalled Assad, "I remember looking up the tree of life and finding out that it was believed in some Jewish traditions to be a sycamore fig tree, which is evergreen. I loved the idea that the tree of life, which I had always naively imagined to be some little backyard fruit tree, was actually a towering, season-less one. It is also said to be the sort of tree that Zacchaeus climbed to see Jesus, and that story has been a great comfort to me."
The lead single from Evergreen, "Deliverer", hearkens back to Assad's hit-making streak on Sparrow Records which one critic described as music "beginning with self-restrained beauty that eventually blossoms into a wall of sound as it speaks of Assad's attempt to look at the term from fresh angles." Said the lady herself, "All along I had thought Jesus was my deliverer from God-it turns out that, among other things, Jesus actually delivers me from my worst ideas about God."
Another standout on the album is the sublime gentleness of the piano ballad "Drawn To You" which includes a chorus co-written with her friend and renowned worship leader Matt Maher while the verses were written after Assad's first connection with her trauma therapist. "I wanted to compose something that honoured my grief, and the pain in every human heart that might find a refuge in the song."
Also on 'Evergreen' is the Celtic-flavored stomp "Wounded Healer" which was written and co-produced with Ben Shive (Andrew Peterson, Brandon Heath) and inspired in part by a book of the same name by Catholic author Henri Nouwen. Said Audrey, "I heard the term first from him and fell in love with the idea that Jesus rose from the dead still bearing his wounds and went to Heaven with a wounded body. It's something I try to meditate on frequently, to seek out what mysteries God might be revealing about himself in it. I hoped to achieve an Irish sense of melody without a lot of traditional Irish sounds - layering and editing synth samples and pianos to create the sound for the opening line was one of my favourite things I did on the whole project."The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.