In his first full-length album since 2013, longtime International House of Prayer of Kansas City (IHOPKC) worship leader and songwriter Jon Thurlow addresses themes of redemption, trial and hope on Different Story from Forerunner Music, IHOPKC's official record label. The album is available for purchase now at iTunes, Amazon.com and other digital retailers internationally, as well as directly at the Forerunner Bookstore where an exclusive vinyl version of the record may also be purchased.
Following the release of his Forerunner Music debut, the live Stand in Awe album in 2013, as well as appearances on numerous Onething Live albums, Thurlow took some time to craft the songs for Different Story. The inspiration flowed from personal challenges and transitions that included the birth of his and his wife Kinsey's first child, a daughter, in late 2016.
Hallels: Jon, thank you for doing this interview with us. Congratulations on the release of your new album Different Story. I have read that the album took 3 years to make. Why did it take so long?
Happy to do this interview! And thank you! Yes, the album was a 3 year journey. We experienced some delays due to life circumstances. In those moments it seemed like the project would never be completed! But in hindsight, I'm truly able to look back and see it was all part of the Lord's timing. Songs that were not yet written when we began work on the project would never have made it onto the album, had it not been for the delays!
Hallels: On this album, you got to work with producer Brown Bannister. Bannister has worked with Michael W. Smith, Amy Grant, Petra, Steven Curtis Chapman, and so many others. What was it like working with him? What did he bring to the record that you appreciated?
Brown is a legend! As he and I recorded my vocals for the project, I can see why he's won so many awards and worked with the best in the business. Brown has a fantastic ear, and an amazing ability to draw out a singer's vocal potential. Sounds came out of me, that I didn't know I could sing! Brown is also one who loves well. He gave so much of his time, wisdom, and strength not only to the project, but to me personally. What a gift.
Hallels: You have written and led congregational focused worship songs on many Onething Live albums. What's the focus of this new album? Is it more for personal worship?
These songs are relational- my testimonies or prayers to the Lord, and then His heart for me, for us. As far as the sound/style, it's more "pop" than what I've previously done. But I actually was really looking forward to the chance to move into this kind of a sound, and am really happy with how it turned out.
Hallels: In my review of the record, I raved about the song "For You." It's such a special ballad where you looked at salvation from God's vantage point. How did the song come about? What does the song mean to you?
I got the idea for the song "For You" just before leading one of my worship sets in the prayer room. One of our leaders was just coming back from an overseas ministry trip, and she was sharing how the idea of serving God was familiar to the church she was ministering to, but the idea of being the Bride of Jesus was new to them. As she was sharing, I just had a sense of Jesus' heart as the Bridegroom for this particular church. In my head I began to hear the melody and lyric of what became the chorus of "For You".
Hallels: You have also re-recorded a couple of songs that you contributed to the Onething Live albums. Why did you decide to re-record them? And did you approach them any differently?
Yes, "Shout Your Name" and "Still Looking Back At Me" were both included on the album, though they had been already recorded. The idea behind re-recording "Shout Your Name" was to capture more of a studio sound, as the original had been a live recording- and I feel like we did really get some great sounds on this new version! "Still Looking Back At Me" was originally recorded live in a studio, and was a very simple arrangement (vocals and piano). We wanted to take the song and give it a more polished feel, with real strings, while still maintaining the beauty and intimacy of the original version. I believe we were able to accomplish this as well!
Hallels: Congratulations on the birth of your daughter in late 2016. Has being a dad helped or hindered you as a songwriter?
Thank you!!! Autumn Bella Thurlow was born January 4th 2017, and she has been a true source of joy to Kinsey and me. I actually haven't been writing much this past year, but I think being a dad is really going to help and enhance my writing. I'm already seeing life so differently, through the lens of being a dad. My view of God as Abba is also changing- for the better!
Hallels: What are you most excited about Different Story?
Up to this point, all of my solo albums have had a raw, live vibe. This is the first time I've actually done a full-length studio album with a more produced, pop style. I think what really excites me is the idea of taking the rich content of the Scripture and the intimacy of conversational worship, and putting it in a more pop format. Of course the goal for me is for the songs to be a touch point or on-ramp for the listener to connect with Jesus.