We all know emotions ebb and flow / Some days I gotta trust what I already know / Even on my darkest days I’m gonna keep believing. -“Faith Is Not a Feeling,” Josh Wilson
For the chart-topping artist and ASCAP’s Songwriter/Artist of the year, Josh Wilson, creating a mini-autobiography with his forthcoming album, Carry Me, wasn’t necessarily in the plan; but as the writing developed, a pattern slowly emerged…an ebb and flow, if you will.
“Each of these songs is a representation of something that God has carried me through in my life,” he shares. “Whether it was my marriage, middle school or my own personal struggle; all of these songs have an autobiographical element to them.”
Ironically, the title track, “Carry Me,” was the last song on the album to be written. Josh recalls: “It was so specific to where I was at the time and I’d never written a song that specific to me before.”
The “11th hour” song, as he playfully refers to it, was co-written by Ben Glover (“Stronger,” Mandisa; “Dear X,” Disciple; “I Refuse,” Josh Wilson) but Wilson wasn’t immediately sold.
“I came into the writing session that day thinking: ‘If we’re going to write, it HAS to be from my heart, because I’m exhausted.’ We were at the end of the writing process and I was tired,” he continues. “It took me eight hours to even come up with the guitar riff and I went home thinking ‘this is really bad.’ But sometimes you just have to sleep on it.”
Thankfully, Glover didn’t share in Wilson’s uneasiness about the song and forwarded it along to producer, Matt Bronleewe. Bronleewe loved the tune so much he immediately booked the studio space to lay down the track—even before the second verse and bridge were completed. The missing pieces to “Carry Me” eventually found their home the day the song was recorded.
But the story doesn’t end with just a beautiful song and a beautiful meaning. What started the journey to Carry Me was a series of severe panic attacks and bouts of anxiety that plagued Wilson over the past year. What began as a frightening trip to the emergency room with heart attack-like symptoms melted into a deep realization and understanding of how much he needed Jesus. Not just in a broad, “salvation” kind of way; but in an intimate, personal, daily way.
“Every day I would pray the verses in Philippians 4: ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,’” Josh says. “And I would tell God that I couldn’t make it without Him, couldn’t even breathe without Him and I needed Him to carry me.”
And carry him, He did.
With a new confidence, Josh began scheduling performances and started the writing process for the new album. As God continued to bolster his spirit and affirm his art, Josh was soon able to lift his eyes from his own life — and all the challenges and blessings there in — and bring the lives of others within his periphery. Through their stories, the mysterious workings of God and the infallible strength of His sustenance and grace, a collective of powerful, fun, touching and always authentic songs emerged.
One of his favorite tracks on the album is the warmhearted and melodic “I See God In You,” that came out of an unexpected relationship he developed with an elderly neighbor, Lily. “I had been wanting to write a story song for some time and I knew it would be more powerful if the story were based in real-life experience,” he explains. “I had always found Lily to be incredibly fascinating and she became the inspiration and driving force behind the idea for the song. She is a widow and has this old Bible that is so tattered; but after getting to know her, I found out her Bible was that way because she had been reading it through in its entirety, every year since 1968! Her faith is absolutely inspirational and I see so much Jesus in her.”
“I See God In You” joins a collection of 12 new tunes on Carry Me and represents a delightful departure into some new sonic territory. “I have been really into loop, electronic and synth sounds lately and our goal for the record was to add more of those elements into what I’ve traditionally done, creating a hybrid of both synth and acoustic elements,” says Wilson.
Together, he and producer Bronleewe spent a month tracking in Josh’s Nashville home studio with the help of drummer/ programmer Jeremy Lutito (Leagues) and bassist Tony Lucido (Kelly Clarkson).
“After Jeremy and Tony laid the rhythm section, Matt and I would fill in the rest of the instrumentation and build out the rest of the song,” he says.
Critically acclaimed as a player, Josh serves his gifts well throughout the project. And, as one might hope, his writing has become proportionately stronger and more authentic. The kind of authenticity only found within those who have faced trials, are facing them, yet are trusting in the Great Counselor for the victory…
With a victor’s confidence, it’s clear that Josh has found the strength within surrender, the peace within release and the relief of lifting his hands like a child to the one who will always carry him through.