Singer-songwriter Melanie Penn will release her sixth studio album, More Alive Vol. 2, on July 15 featuring 10 songs and multiple videos. Penn once again teamed with Nashville producers Ben Shive and Cason Cooley on the project. When Penn released More Alive Vol. 1 in 2020, the country was dealing with the height of the Covid-19 pandemic that led to isolation in homes, fear of the disease and an uncertain future. In 2022, struggles still remain but with different issues. Penn’s journey with the songs on her new album comes with heartbreak since the music was written during the long Covid era when she was caring for her father’s battle with cancer, who eventually passed away in 2021. More Alive Vol. 2 flows with uplifting songs and thoughtful lyrics to share the hope that only God can give. The project also features compelling visuals, including the music video for “Follow You,” set to premiere on July 15 as well, which was filmed in Iceland. In this TCB Exclusive, Penn talks about how this second collection of songs encourages listeners to go outside their comfort zone and fully jump into life. Penn reflects on the personal events that coincided with the songwriting process and opens up about how she hopes More Alive Vol. 2 will impact listeners. And finally, she previews the “Follow You” music video that is coming soon.
Can you share a little about the timeline for the conception of More Alive Vol. 2 and how it pairs with More Alive Vol. 1?
Move Alive Vol. 1 came out in Sept 2020 in the height of Covid. And this second collection of songs is still in the upbeat, vibrant category of songs, but it’s up a notch. We are heading out of this two-year era. So some of the songs are a lot riskier and are about getting out of your comfort zone and jumping into life.
Are there any personal highlights that stand out to you about the writing/recording sessions?
I always love writing and recording songs. I took care of my dad while he was dying during Covid. And a lot of these songs came out of that time. During that time I couldn’t leave the house much, or it would only be for a twenty minute walk. So a lot of the songs were written on those walks in little pieces. So I would send the snippets to my producer. So even though that was the process, I think the songs turned out great!
How do you hope this project will impact others?
In the Christian music category, it’s hard to pin down what I’m doing. I’m definitely not doing congregational worship and I’m not doing hymn retellings. I’m really writing pop songs from a faith-based worldview. And when you look at the category of Christian music, there are not a ton of artists doing that right now. But I want people to be able to be living their lives and have pop songs. I want people to have pop songs in their lives. Especially now when you love how the pop songs sound but not what they are saying. I really want to provide people with wholesome, happy upbeat songs they can enjoy.
Which track, or lyric, do you feel is going to be most impactful or is most needed at this time?
One of the really upbeat songs is called “The Melody.” One of the hooks is “You’re always singing over me.” The idea that no matter what is happening that God is singing over you. So I love how that is a very practical application of Scripture. And then there is another song called “Peace,” which is more of a ballad. And the first lyric is “I want to know Your Word and not the news.” I want listeners to detach from the news a little bit and focus on the eternal truths that we know to be true. The best thing we can do is hold on to the Lord and what He says.
Can you share more about the music video for “Follow You” that will be releasing in the coming weeks?
Well “Follow You” as a song is about following God through the wilderness. The pillar of fire and the cloud by day is called the Shekinah glory. And the word Shekinah never occurs in the Bible, but the Jewish concept does. And when Christ comes in the New Testament, the same words that describe the pillar of fire and the cloud by day are used to describe Christ. So a filmmaker from New York, who I work with a lot, and I have been talking a lot about how we could tell a story about wandering through wilderness and not knowing where you are going. My filmmaker suggested that we should just go to Iceland. It was a great choice because there is vast landscape in the US where you can be in uninhabited places, but it doesn’t change. In Iceland, it’s uninhabited, but every five minutes, the topography is changing. So you could really tell a story about being in a valley and a mountain range, and it’s crazy how compressed those masses are. I think it’s beautiful; it’s like a painting when I watch it. It’s very impressionistic!
Who, or what, is currently providing inspiration for you, either musically or spiritually?
I have a bunch of new songs that are not a part of More Alive Vol. 2. They are part of an upcoming cycle. So I’ll take a little break and then jump into another album cycle. And those songs are definitely more directly derived from our cultural events and political climate. And they’re not political songs, but they are my answers to all the problems in the world. Songs about loving your neighbor and taking care of each other and being local. They are still in my soft and winsome pop song way, but I really felt that I wanted to speak into our cultural moment. I want to say that ourselves are also something we can be working to reform, and have the power to enact change.
What are you most expectant for in the remainder for 2022?
Well I just moved to Nashville yesterday. I’ve been a New York city resident and commuted to Nashville for every album I’ve made. I need to take care of Mom and New York didn’t seem like the best place. So I brought her to Nashville and I’m interested to see how I’ll be able to weave into the Nashville community. I’ve made records here for a long time, but I’ve only been a visitor. So to be a part of every day life is new. I’m hopeful, but I don’t know what it will be like.