|Meet the Artist: Lara Landon|
|Written by Christine D. Johnson|
|Wednesday, 02 May 2012 09:37 AM America/New_York|
Lara Landon’s sophomore project, Overcome, released on her own Wise Sam label. Co-produced by the artist in cooperation with Mitch Dane, Steve Wilson and Brian Hitt, the album is available from New Day Christian Distributors (phone: 800-251-3633; fax: 800-361-2533).
Who is Lara Landon as an artist?
The music that I write is just an extension of who I am in everyday life. Just like all believers, I have some really hard times and some great moments, and music for me is an expression of that. I try to make music that I would like to hear, music that is really honest and stylistically close to what I grew up loving—folk, musical theater, pop, classical.
You seem a bit of a teacher or encourager. Do you see yourself that way in your music?
I find that God is teaching and encouraging me through writing songs, and I hope that comes through for listeners. Sometimes God will inspire me to write a song, and I won’t fully grasp it until years later. I do feel responsible for the lyrics that I write. Even if I’m expressing brokenness and weakness, I want to make sure there is a redemptive and uplifting quality to it. I never want people to come away from listening to something I’ve made feeling down or confused, but encouraged and enlightened.
Describe the music on Overcome.
It varies a lot stylistically, and I think that’s a good thing that adds interest. It’s hard for people these days to listen to a whole 12-song album all the way through, so I wanted to choose songs that told a story from start to finish. I think this album has a lot of unexpected and creative elements, like Spanish guitar and lyrics in Hebrew. It’s really “out of the box” in some ways, and I’m happy with that.
Your first album was produced by Michael Omartian, but I understand you co-produced the new one. How did that play out?
Yes! He worked on my first album, and he is a musical genius. I learned a lot by spending all that time watching him and other amazing producers. Since I was a teenager, I dabbled in producing and engineering. In past recordings, I always had ideas and a say in how songs were produced, so I figured I should just jump in all the way and produce nine out of 12 songs on the album. It was challenging, but it was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done—to create a song from idea, to writing, to arranging and producing. Three of the songs were done by producers I learned from and look up to—Steve Wilson (Josh Wilson, Johnny Diaz); Mitch Dane (Jars of Clay, JJ Heller); and Brian Hitt (MIKESCHAIR).
What similarities and differences are there from previous albums?
It’s similar in style to my first album, Beloved, piano-driven with a lot of full, lush string arrangements. It’s very grand in some ways, but also intimate. They both hint at my Middle-Eastern roots and stylistic lean toward drama and emotion. Overcome has more of an edge and more folk elements than Beloved. The theme of Beloved laid the foundation for the theme of Overcome. It’s a progression of thought and style that came really naturally.
“The River” speaks of the cleansing we need in our close relationships. Did it come out of your personal experience or simply observation?
It came out of my need for redemption from a broken friendship I had been struggling with for years. I also imagined how hard it would be to fix a marriage after years of hurts and disappointments. The river it speaks of is the river talked about in Revelation and the book of Daniel that brings healing and can supernaturally “make new” whatever we let it wash over. If we are willing to lay a relationship down before God, He can make it new even though it feels and looks impossible.
“I See God in You” is a powerful song. How did it come about?
The phrase “I See God In You” had been popping up everywhere, so I knew there was something to it. Shortly after I finished the song with Ty Smith and Mitch Dane, I took a trip to Haiti and really found out what it meant. I saw in the kids there, one child in particular, a faith, hope and love that transcended circumstance. They had true joy even though they had no possessions. I realized they truly had God in their hearts. It was a privilege interacting with them—feeling as though I was interacting with Jesus Himself. I found that it’s true—when we do it unto the “least of these,” we do it unto Him. He can be found all around us in people we meet every day, and we have the opportunity to serve Him through serving them.
Are there one or two songs on the album that are particularly special to you?
All of them are special to me, but I really relate to “Leah.” I am so grateful to God because I see how He is slowly transforming me into the person that I only wished I could become when I was a teenager. I used to be shy, negative, depressed and frustrated, and I would look at women who had peace, confidence, love and were moving by the power of God’s grace, and I couldn’t understand how to bridge the gap between who I was and who I wanted to become. “Leah” is that confused girl, and in the song I’m telling her she will get there, she will become who God made her to be if she’ll just keep moving forward in faith.
It looks like you write some songs on your own and some with a writing partner; do you have a preference?
There is something really cool about working on a song with a really great writer; they can add a chord or a phrase I would never think of, so I love co-writing. But I tend to enjoy writing better on my own just because I can go as fast or as slow as I want and can say whatever I feel without checking myself or altering the way I would naturally say it.
How can Christian retailers best share with their customers about this album?
This album is truly representative of a journey. More than just a collection of songs, it tells a story. I wanted to take people from a place of confronting their humanity and weakness on songs like “Better for the Breaking,” “Defenseless” and “Falling” to being encouraged by tracks like “I See God in You.” Toward the end it’s all about victory and empowerment—I want listeners to literally be declaring “we will overcome” and “the spirit of the Lord is upon me” as they sing along in their car. I am excited for customers to join me on this journey, and I hope they come out of it refreshed and renewed.