Today I found myself after searching all these years
And the man that I saw wasn’t at all who I thought he’d be
I was lost when you found me here
I was broken beyond repair
Then you came along and sang your song over me
Feels like I’m born again, feels like I’m living
For the very first time in my life.
Every believer can relate to those words. We’ve all had those times of confusion, hurt and disillusionment that have been replaced by the sweet comfort that comes from the loving hand of our heavenly Father. Those lyrics from “Born Again,” one of the compelling new songs on Third Day’s new album Revelation, once again demonstrate the band’s ability to create music that captures the complexities of the Christian walk.
With his heart on his sleeve, lead vocalist/principal songwriter Mac Powell gives voice to the emotions all believers feel as they attempt to reconcile everyday struggles with the hope born of salvation. Songs like “Run to You,” “Born Again,” “This Is Who I Am,” and the first single, “Call My Name” are like musical stepping stones on the band’s personal journey.
“When you get older in your faith, you don’t necessarily have fewer questions,” confesses Powell. “I used to get mad at myself when I’d have questions about my faith, but I’ve learned through the years that God has answered so many of those. Sometimes it’s not right away, sometimes it is years before you get the answer, but He’s proven himself. Now when I have questions, I get excited about it, not angry at myself, but excited because I know that God’s going to show me something new."
In writing and recording the music on Revelation, the men in Third Day came to terms with the fact they don’t have all the answers, but they know the One who does, and they can glean comfort and peace in that knowledge. “Sharing God’s love with people has always been core to us,” says drummer David Carr. “We want to reiterate that God loves us. That is a concept that should never get old.”
During the past 15 years, Third Day has built an impressive career. The Georgia-based band has won 23 Gospel Music Association Dove Awards, three GRAMMY Awards, earned two consecutive American Music Award nods, and multiple ASCAP honors for their songwriting skills. Their catalog of hits has helped define the Christian radio landscape for more than a decade while the band scored 24 No. 1 singles and sold more than six million albums.
Success has also earned them respect and admiration from other artists, and Revelation, the band’s 11th studio album, features some intriguing collaborations. Pedal steel guitar phenomenon Robert Randolph adds his distinctive flair to the raucous Southern-fried anthem “Otherside.” Chris Daughtry, a longtime Third Day fan, adds his unique voice on “Slow Down,” and Flyleaf’s Lacey Mosely lends her beautiful vocal the poignant ballad “Born Again.”
Its last studio album, Wherever You Are, produced the instant classic “Cry Out to Jesus” and further added to the band’s creative legacy. “It will have been almost three years between studio albums, between Wherever You Are and this new album,” says bassist Tai Anderson. “That’s a long time for us. We put out Chronology, Volumes I and II, as well as a Christmas album. Chronology kind of put an end cap on an era for us, and it’s given us time to really get excited about reinventing ourselves a little bit and moving forward into the next wave.”
As they entered a studio in Charlottesville, Virginia last spring to begin writing songs for the new album, the band was armed with the seasoned vision that comes from years of experience, yet there was a creative restlessness in their spirit that signaled something different was stirring.
“That initial session in Charlottesville really did set the tone for this album,” says Anderson. “We’ve done most of our albums in Atlanta. We’re all from Atlanta and our families are there and we’re kind of home. Even though we travel and we like to go places, we like to be home as much as we can. Sometimes with that comes this sort of comfort level that I think could be good, but it can also hinder the creativity because you are thinking ‘I can be out of here in an hour and be home.’ By not really being able to look at our watches, it was just a productive time for us to be focused and I really feel like we got the results we needed. This is a new statement of who Third Day is.”
Once out of their comfort zone, the band continued to stretch creatively by heading to Los Angeles to work with producer Howard Benson. “We chose to work with Howard because of his incredible history and current resume,” says Powell of Benson’s track record working with Daughtry, Hoobastank, P.O.D. and Flyleaf. “We loved those records and the vision he had for those albums. We really wanted to shake things up. We needed something fresh. We needed to do something different and going with a different producer and then working different places than we’d ever worked before, did get us out of our comfort zone. They weren’t easy decisions but in hindsight, I’m so glad that we did.”
The band credits Benson with teaching them that less is more. “It almost sounds too cliché to keep it simple,” says guitarist Mark Lee, “but it really does work well with music, with any sort of creative thing. If you’re having to really think hard, then you’re probably thinking too hard. If it’s a great song, it just comes naturally and that’s how music should be. It should be a natural expression of what’s inside and the emotion. I feel we captured that on this album better than we have in a while.”
Anderson admits to being initially a little nervous about working with Benson. “It’s the most I’ve ever been intimidated working with a producer,” he admits candidly. “I feel like we started more insecure than ever and we left more confident than ever.”
Carr compares it to a team suddenly getting a new coach, a tougher coach. “A new coach comes in, and he’s not a nice guy, so everyone is intimidated,” he says. “Howard came in and made us work hard. He made us think about our process and what really matters to us. It was hard, but he brought the best out of us and we’re really happy with the result.”
The songs on the album explore the complexities of living out one’s faith in today’s world. “Looking over the lyrics, there are different processes in life: there’s faith and there’s prayer and there’s salvation. I think within those, you have this place of brokenness. There’s a place of coming before God in prayer and saying I need some help and then there’s the process after that of being changed and moving forward with what God has shown you and is teaching you and I think that is throughout this record. There are songs with questions. There are songs about prayer, coming before God and saying ‘I need to be changed, I want you to change me because I can’t do it on my own,’ and then there’s songs about being ready to move forward in the direction that God is wanting me to go.”
Adds Lee, “Our goal for the album is for these songs to hold out hope for people. Our desire is that people do relate to a lot of struggles that are in some of these songs, but at the same time on this album find strength and find hope and encouragement.”
The physical copy of Third Day's "Revelation" in a jewel case.