Critically acclaimed singer/songwriter Jason Gray releases his full-length album, Land of the Living, today (Nov. 17) at digital and streaming outlets globally via https://fanlink.to/
“Concept albums tend to ask something of the listener,” Gray says in regard to Land of the Living’s predecessor. “This record is a little bit more, ‘Thank you for your attention. That was the meat. Let’s have a little dessert.’”
This cherry-on-top addition to his catalog is full of meaningful songs marked by Gray’s remarkable ability to plumb the depths of the human experience — all within the confines of a three-minute pop song.
For each of the dozen tracks on Land of the Living, there’s always one question Gray asks when he walks into a writing room: How do we tell the truth today? Yet, he proposes there’s another question that’s often a quicker route to the heart of the matter: What are we afraid to talk about today?
He discovered the answer to that question when he penned “Worth Staying For,” arguably the most personal song of his entire career. Written with Andy Gullahorn, the autobiographical selection uncovers Gray’s scars as he shares his core fear of abandonment, a wound inflicted in his childhood when his father left, and that was reopened years later during a painful divorce. “I was scared to release that one,” he confesses, “because as a writer, you don’t want to be the victim or the hero of your songs.” Gray ultimately holds himself accountable as he traces the trauma from its point of entry to the ways “pain will be transmitted if it doesn’t get transformed.”
Other topics he covers on Land of the Living aren’t nearly as heavy, yet, just like Gray, they’re exceptionally thoughtful. He excavates Psalm 27 on the title-cut, explores childlike wonder on “When I Grow Up,” celebrates biblical manhood on “Good Man” and wrestles with doubt on “Questions.”
Lead single “Place For Me,” produced and engineered by GRAMMY Award-winning Jeff Sojka (Jeremy Camp, Crowder) and mixed by Sean Moffit (Chris Tomlin, NEEDTOBREATHE), was birthed out of Gray’s own weighty baggage from the church, a place he’s ultimately found to be a refuge for the sinner and saint alike. “At its best, the church offers a place of belonging based on our need for grace, for each other, for help and for guidance,” Gray says of the message behind the upbeat offering he co-wrote with Matt Armstrong and Ethan Hulse. “It’s where different people, who don’t necessarily agree with each other, come together and manage to point their hearts in the same direction for a couple hours every week, and that’s beautiful.”
Land of the Living also features the tongue-in-cheek quirkiness of “Jesus Loves You (And I’m Trying),” the pop-centric “Be Kind,” and the Gospel-inflected, choir-assisted “When I Say Yes.”
While his music has always given listeners a safe space to work out the details of life, faith and relationship, the veteran artist reveals that he finds himself writing from a different perspective on Land of the Living. “I now see songwriting as trying to offer healing language to the world,” Gray says. “It makes it less egocentric. It’s not about me expressing myself. Instead, it’s about me trying to love my audience well by writing words that might help them express things they need better language for.”