Christian singer and songwriter Aaron Shust has released his new studio album for Centricity Music, Doxology, on Friday, August 28th. The project was recorded in Nashville and was produced by the David Crowder Band's renowned drummer, Christian Paschall. The record contains 10 new songs, with eight that were co-written by Shust, including "Nothing More" that features labelmate, Lauren Daigle. The album delivers Shust's signature style of corporate worship in a festive and celebratory frame that honors the good news of the risen Christ.
Hallels: Aaron, thanks so much for your time. Why have you decided to release a worship album?
Thanks for the opportunity! That depends on how you define a 'worship album' I guess. Some imagine worship albums are live recordings from a church, with a lot of reverb added, huge crowd vocals and applause between songs. I love those but have never made one. But if a worship album is a collection of songs that either clearly address God, or sings about His attributes in His presence, ascribing value (worth) and praise to His name, then I have done nothing but create seven worship albums over the last ten years and that includes my Christmas album, Unto Us: it's definitely a worship album. That's what I love to write and even more so, it's what I love to share with the people of God. It's not a performance when we play these songs, it's an engagement with our Father.
Hallels: With David Crowder Band's drummer Christian Paschall as producer, what do you think he brings to the recording that you appreciate?
Christian has been a great friend since he pinch-hit for me in the 11th hour for a CD release concert in 2011. Since then we've toured together, he's been to my house and I've been to his. He's mixed the last few online feeds of Passion's live events over the years, which I thought were the best sounding lives mixes I'd ever heard before I even learned it was Christian doing the job! So I knew he was talented. The fact that he now plays with David full time only goes to prove that. We were searching for Producers and a mutual friend recommended we give Christian the helm. It was like a lightbulb turned on. He's a percussionist at heart and I wanted a strong sense of rhythm on this album, so I knew he would see to that. It was fun to see him "conduct" the recording process from behind his drum kit.
Hallels: Why did you call the album "Doxology"?
A doxology is a liturgy of praise to God. There are doxologies peppered throughout the Scriptures and one of my favorites is from Jude 24-25. When we were writing the song 'To The Only God,' heavily based on that doxology, I knew it would be a strong sounding name for the song if not the album. The song didn't get the title, so I bestowed that blessing on the entire album.
Hallels: I am so sorry to hear about what you have been through with your two youngest sons, how do you think suffering helps or hinders you as writer of worship songs?
Thank you, it can only help. Our middle son almost died with an incurable disease which has still left him anaphylactically allergic to eggs and milk. Soon after, our youngest was born with Down Syndrome and half a heart. Then in our attempt to care for our sick babies, an anonymous call was made accusing us of abuse and neglect because our youngest (with DS) is so tiny. He's almost 4 and still hasn't hit 20 pounds. We were threatened to have all 3 of our children removed and were under investigation for nine months before charges were dropped. It makes you resonate with Job who didn't understand why things went south, but Job still responded in worship initially. Then his doubting began of course, but he ends by giving praise and honor to God when face to face with Him. He doesn't ask the questions, God does. I've seen God's glory revealed so clearly through our trials; through healings, through other-worldly peace in hospital rooms, and through the kindness shown to those who threatened us. And that only increases my worship.
Hallels: One of the songs I really love is "Never Gonna Let Me Go." I believe this song is very personal to you, can you tell us a little about the story behind this song?
It began with my friend Benji who had the melody and bass line stuck in his head. We wrote how God would be with us through the trials of life. A celebration remembering all the times He was faithful. I'd played it at church and when my friend and our bass player, Scott, died of a decade long bout with cancer, his wife requested his memorial service be full of celebrative praise. Never Gonna Let Me Go was the only song I added that wasn't an established praise song. It was a joy to sing it. The next day I told Benji about the experience and he said, 'That's the 3rd verse!' We ended up writing what can separate me / when You are holding on / even death won't take me / You're never gonna let me go.
Hallels: You also have a duet with Lauren Daigle. How did you get to work with her? What was she like?
Lauren and I share a label (Centricity Music) and management (Eaglemont Entertainment). I pretty much demanded she be on my 2014 Morning Rises Tour and didn't just want her to sing her two songs up front, only to disappear for the rest of the night. I wanted her singing with me. With only 30 minutes left in the concert, people probably assumed she didn't show up, she walks out in the middle of Wondrous Love and sang Kari Jobe's part with me...just acoustic and two voices. Then my band and I played for her two songs. She stayed on stage, singing harmonies for my last two songs. It was such a great way to end the night. She is truly one of the most Spirit-filled people I know. Full of the fruit of the Spirit. She truly seeks God First. I'm honored to know her.
Hallels: Being a worship leader yourself, how would you define a good worship set? What kind of songs do you look out for in leading worship?
I look for songs that proclaim the strong attributes of God. His grace, His love, His faithfulness, etc. I want those words of truth to enter our eyes, pass over our lips and fill the air around us. I'm also careful to allow my congregation the ability to emotionally worship by not having to work too hard learning new songs all the time. We do a lot of new songs but there has to be balance. This past Sunday, for example, was so refreshing because we were able to simply soak in well-loved songs. Forever (by Chris Tomlin), 10,000 Reasons, Open the Eyes of My Heart (we sing 'our hearts') and Here I Am To Worship. So simple and effortless, people's ability to worshipthrough the songs increased. (Plus we finished rehearsal so early, we were able to go to Sunday School!)
Hallels: For our readers who would like to find out more about you and your music, where can they go?