The last ten years have brought a myriad of change for Brian and Jenn Johnson. The husband and wife team behind Bethel Music have watched their own career give way to facilitating an entire worship movement. While they’ve still been writing songs, they’re also mentoring worship leaders and watching God use the talent of Bethel to establish a global presence.
Now the duo is back with their brand new album, After All These Years (buy), an intimate devotional album influenced by silence. It’s also a response to the overwhelming demands and stress felt by the Johnsons in the years between albums. In the midst of God’s blessing, Brian describes his own nervous breakdown and the subsequent lessons learned about reliance on God.
We recently asked Brian more about the mood and songs on the new album, and where he sees worship music heading in the next few years.
CCM Magazine: There’s an immediate atmosphere that the new album creates. Was that something you were wanting to create?
Brian Johnson: While we enjoy a lot of music, we also don’t listen to a lot of music at times because we live on a farm. Our life is music, so for us, downtime is more silent. In a sense, this album was something we wanted to feel more like silence. There’s a lot of noise out there, which isn’t bad, but for us, it’s more of a devotional expression. For instance, with the strings, we wanted a big string orchestra because it feels more classic that way. We didn’t have to have drums. We didn’t want electric guitar. We wanted to strip a lot of that away that we’d normally use to create that silence, in a sense, when it comes to music. We love silence. We wanted this to be about the heart, about reconnection with God.
CCM: So it’s learning to restrain yourself from using the bells and whistles available to you?
BJ: Yeah, and a lot of it was the producers were also helping to lead the charge. We had an original idea to use the strings and do something different, so in order to build the song, we had to learn to do that without the bass, drums, and electric guitar. All of the songs we write would feel amazing to ramp a chorus up and launch it, but we decided to go the opposite route. It was a challenge, but we wanted something that you could play in the background or keep it up front during a devotional time, a soaking time or a pre-service prayer.
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