It’s all about the tension of life’s joys and sorrows
Elim Sound’s Ian Yates released the first part of his sixth studio album ‘Between the Joy and the Sorrow’ in June, with part two to follow on 30 September.
I feel very privileged to be able to release these songs. This is my sixth album, and it’s being released by 7Core Music in two parts – the first part was on 24 June and part two on 30 September.
Between the Joy and the Sorrow is a collection of 18 honest songs about living in the tension of life’s joys and sorrows.
Musically, I found inspiration in a number of singer/songwriters, including 70s folk singer Nick Drake, Foy Vance, Alexi Murdoch, Bob Dylan and the Nebraska album from Bruce Springsteen.
Many of the songs are stripped back musically, focusing on the lyrical content.
I teamed up again with producer Trevor Michael (Snow Patrol, Matt Redman, Martin Smith), which is always a joy. Over the two releases I’ve asked some big questions and tried to be honest and real.
This collection of songs was born out of the past two years as we’ve navigated the pandemic.
Like with most of us, my life has been full of ups and downs, and the lockdown with three children under seven was full of highs and lows.
I’m always writing songs, and I’ve been purposefully trying to write more honestly over recent years. I’ve had to come back to a simple trust in God.
Often, I found myself disappointed with things I’d seen and getting frustrated and lost in people’s opinions, their many perceptions of God, the incorrect prophecies, all the politics, and then trying to understand why things happen.
But at the end of the day, I’m only responsible for myself, and I had to look at myself and ask, am I living a life of true devotion and worship? Am I loving my enemy? How is the condition of my heart?
Over the past two years, I’ve felt like I’ve been living in the tensions of God’s faithfulness and provision, yet facing struggles and wrestling with the many things I’ve seen.
A lot of the songs have come from that place.
My prayer is that these songs bring hope to those who have been disillusioned and remind those who have been disappointed that there is a light in the darkness and a father who loves his children.
I hope people can relate to the songs and remember to look to Jesus and not man.
With each release I always pray that people encounter God’s love as they listen to the songs and that they know God is with them and is faithful.
It’s really tricky. The song that means the most to me at the moment is ‘God You’ve Never Failed Me’.
It was inspired by my own journey, but mainly by our really close friend Tim who recently passed away after his journey with cancer.
I wrote the song in September 2021 when things were actually on the up for him. I was inspired by Tim and his wife Tash’s incredible faith. They shared updates on a Facebook group, and some of the lines of the song were inspired by those updates.
Sadly, Tim’s condition got worse this year, and he died in March. I gave him a copy of the song in January and he called it ‘his song’ and shared it with people who came to see him.
The week before he passed, I went to the hospice and he asked me to play ‘his song’. It was a really precious moment as we worshipped together.
His family asked me to play it at his funeral, which was really special too.
I love working with Trevor Michael, he has been my biggest supporter since we met in 2009.
I had well over a hundred songs and ideas for this project, and after a tough process, I ended up taking 25 down to the studio, thinking we’d record ten songs. Trev choose 22, so we’ve ended up with a double album and a possible EP coming out at a later date.
It’s always so much fun working with Trev. One of the hardest things is finishing the lyrics – a lot of songwriters say the same. I was still tweaking some of the songs as we were recording the final vocal.
As I keep growing in songwriting I want to make sure each word I use is as strong as it can be.
Musically this project has a more acoustic feel to it than my previous albums; part one has a very ‘acoustic’ vibe, and part two has a more ‘band’ sound.
Lyrically, I think this follows on from some of the themes of my last album ‘Mystery’ and the final song I wrote for that project, ‘Loved By You’.
Overall, these songs are more honest. I’ve been encouraged to dig deep by a number of close friends and to be more vulnerable and truthful about the situations we face in life and on our journeys.
There’s a mix of asking some big questions, singing about anxiety, fear and suffering, and then also songs that declare God’s faithfulness and goodness.
Despite everything I’ve seen and the many questions I have, I undeniably believe there is always hope in a God who loves us. I hope that comes across.
Who inspires you in the music world?
I’m currently really inspired by The War On Drugs, Nick Drake, Bob Dylan, Foy Vance, Bruce Cockburn and I love the recent Beatles documentary Get Back.
I’m always on the lookout for artists who have depth to their lyrics and share their spiritual journeys. In terms of worship music, Hillsong UNITED and Phil Wickham continue to release really strong songs.
I’ve had the privilege of writing a few songs with one of my heroes, Matt Redman, and that has been amazing – it was actually a dream of mine.
I’ve mentioned Foy Vance a couple of times already, and he would be someone I’d love to collaborate with or just learn from. He inspires a lot of songwriters, including Ed Sheeran’s hero.
You can listen to Ian's music on his YouTube channel here: Ian Yates Music
This article first appeared in the July 2022 edition of Direction Magazine. For further details, please click here.
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