Fresh Start, the long-awaited Gotee Records debut from GRAMMY® Award-nominated singer/songwriter Ryan Stevenson, bows on September 18. Highlighted by the multi-week #1, "Not Forgotten" (feat. TobyMac),Fresh Start is now available exclusively on TheOverflow, while iTunes pre-orders, with Instant-Grat tracks "Not Forgotten," "All Yours" and "Dare You To Trust My Love," have begun. Produced and mixed by Bryan Fowler (TobyMac) for fabmusic, with "Not Forgotten" produced by Chuck Butler (Mandisa) and mixed by Christopher Stevens (Mat Kearney) for fabmusic, Fresh Start features 10 songs co-written by Stevenson.
Hallels: Ryan, thank you for doing this interview with us. How does it feel to have TobyMac cut your song "Speak Life"?
Thanks for the opportunity! It's an amazing honor to have written several songs with Toby and have him record them for his projects. He's been a mentor figure to me for many years, so writing "Speak Life" together felt like a crazy dream come true.
Hallels: Congratulations on the release of "Fresh Start." I have read from your press release that revival is something close to your heart. How do you think this new record can ignite our hearts to love Jesus more?
Yes! The Lord has been speaking "revival" to my heart for several years. Recently, He has been walking with me through a process of stretching, pruning and refining. Within this process, I've been learning that pruning means He's ultimtalely moving me into the mainstream of His purposes for my life. When we start to believe that He is ALWAYS good, then we will begin to trust Him! When we do that, we begin to not worry about our daily details and plans, we just walk and see where he takes us. I feel like the key to revival is His presence. Again, when we believe that He is a good God, and that He's always motivated by love; we begin to operate without fear. This type of uncommon lifestyle of presence seeking ultimately revives our hearts and draws us to Him.
Hallels: Why did you entitle record "Fresh Start"?
This song in particular has a special meaning to me because of what I've sensed the Lord doing in my life. I feel like I've stepped into a new season with the Lord. I don't feel like I'm starting over, but rather beginning a fresh new adventure. This record- these songs and the heart behind it all- is 100% birthed from coming into a new understanding of His grace. The book of Lamentations says, "His mercies are new every morning." I've walked through some serious fire over the last several years but the growth from that has been profound. I believe He gives us fresh starts and clean slates moment by moment.
Hallels: Tell us more about "All Yours." What inspired you to write this brand new single?
I wrote "All Yours" while I was sitting on the beach on the Oregon coast. Again, I've been discovering how amazingly good the Lord is all the time. Even during my selfish, prideful, lustful episodes, He never changes. He always treats me the same; He continues to hold me, provide for me and love with me such unending patience. Seeing this in my life makes me not want to grieve Him. His kindness leads me to repentance and makes me want to bless Him with my life. With all I have, I just want to be all His. I wanted to simply tell him, "I'm All Yours!"
Hallels: I also love the song "From the Ground Up." Tell us more about the story behind this song.
I grew up in a small farming community in Southern Oregon, in a little town called Bonanza. That's where I was molded with values that shaped the course of my life. I am so thankful that I got to grow up in the country surrounded by community. I grew up working on my best friend's dairy farm. This place saved my life! It taught me to work hard; to not quit; to persevere during difficult seasons. I also grew up in a little country church singing the hymns of old. This was how I learned about Jesus. My growing up out there extinguished any ounce of entitlement in me. I know I carry the heart of my upbringing with me everywhere I go. It's who I am!
Hallels: I believe you co-wrote all the songs on this new album. Who are some of your co-writers? Any interesting story from your songwriting sessions for this album?
I am so blown away at the brilliance and gifts within each of my co-writers. People like Jason Ingram, Jeff Pardo, Matt Maher, Toby Mac, Gabe Patillo, Bryan Fowler...these guys bring out the best in me! Every one of them is so anointed! My favorite story from this album was how "Bonanza" was written. My A&R man (Brad from Gotee) swung by the studio one afternoon, and out of the blue said, " ou should try to write a song about growing up in Oregon." It wasn't even a thought for this record, and we were getting close to wrapping it all up. However, that evening I started to write it. The next day, Bryan (my producer) came to the studio because he forgot something. I shared the idea, and we finished the song in about 30 minutes and recorded it the next day. It was amazing to see it seamlessly come together. It was my favorite song to record!
Hallels: I believe you are a fan of Brennan Manning and his writing even inspired you to write one of the songs on the album. What do you like about Manning's writings?
I love how RAW he is. When I started to learn about his personal life, that's when I really started to connect with his books. He lived so vulnerably and wasn't afraid to talk about the broken, ugly things of his life. His testimony started to revive me, and began a journey of deliverance from a lot of unhealthy thoughts and patterns in my life. I'm so thankful for his willingness to simply live openly before people. He kept short tabs with Jesus and knew his inability to fix himself. It's in our weakness that His strength is made perfect!
Hallels: I believe you are currently touring in support of this new album. Where can our readers find out about your touring details?
Indeed! Im out for the next four months with the Newsboys! if people want to keep up on what's going on, they can find me at www.ryanstevensonmusic.com www.facebook.com/ryanstevensonmusictwitter & instagram @ryansmusic