Lindsay McCaul, recently signed to Centricity Music, releases her second label album in ‘One More Step‘, releasing August 19th. I recently had the privilege in undertaking an email interview with Lindsay, as we discussed the upcoming album, what she hopes listeners will experience when hearing the tracks, as well as any hopes she has of the upcoming year ahead. Check out the interview below.
1. I have loved your debut label album If it Leads Me Back released in 2012- some of my favourites include songs like ‘Come Rest’, ‘Ready’, ‘Let Go’ and ‘Where Would You Go’. Listening to One More Step is no different- even though you are now on Centricity Music instead of Reunion Records, your sound of acoustic-pop/CCM has never changed. How has the overall recording experience been for your new album? What has stayed the same and what has changed when comparing both your 2012 and 2014 albums?
Well first of all, thank you so much!! I’m so honored that you’ve connected with both albums as that means a ton to me. I’d say with One More Step I really tried to focus on writing more up-tempo songs. Slower ballads have always come easier for me as a songwriter, so I knew those wouldn’t be lacking when it came time to pick which songs made the album. I intentionally surrounded myself with people who are great at writing up-tempo and I really love what we got!
I wrote a TON for this album, probably 70+ songs. When we started to sort through and select which songs would be on the album, it was really cool to see a few underlying themes (surrender, following God in faith, His unfailing love, presence and faithfulness through every season…) emerge through the project, the same way it happened with If It Leads Me Back. Both albums are snapshots of my life, the valleys and mountaintops God has led me through, and I’m praying they’ll both be a tool God uses to encourage and lead people closer to Him.
2. For those who may not have listened to your style of music before, what can you say to convince them to listen to your music? Who in the music industry do you think you sound like- vocal and music wise (so as to give listeners a better idea of the style of music you are akin to writing, recording and performing)? For me, I reckon your music is similar to artists like Nichole Nordeman, Christy Nockels or Bethany Dillon.
Goodness –thank you! It’s an honor to be compared to those incredible women. I’m a massive fan of all three of them and definitely would say my music has been influenced by each of them.I guess my answer to what style of music I write/play is ‘thinker acoustic pop.’ My major in college (Moody Bible Institute) was Applied Linguistics. I thought I would eventually be translating the Bible overseas so I focused my studies on language and the Bible. While God redirected my path to music after I graduated, my goal is still to translate the Bible, but I am just translating it into music now rather than another language. If someone has never listened to my style of music before, I try to write songs that connect with your heart and your head both musically and lyrically.
3. What can you hope for listeners to hear and experience when they check out your new album? If there is one take home message from listening to One More Step, what would you like listeners to gain from the 11 tracks?
The message I hope they take away from One More Step is the same lesson I’ve been (slowly) learning the past few years, that God is faithful, present and working all things together for good every step of our journey home. Even when we can’t see how He’s working, even when we don’t sense He’s near, He is.
4. These last few years for you, personally and professionally, has been a bit of a rollercoaster. Your father went to be with Jesus, you had a well-received first album, you changed labels, and you toured with artists like Matthew West and Casting Crowns. What has God been teaching you throughout the last few years about Himself, and also about yourself?
Through these past few years God has really been showing me that His ways are higher than my ways, His plans are better than my plans, and I can trust Him completely. I tend to be a pretty anxious person, so sometimes if things change suddenly and ‘my’ plans are altered I begin to worry God has forgotten, doesn’t care or isn’t at work in the situation. But me believing the enemy’s lies (that God isn’t caring, involved and completely sovereign) doesn’t change who God is, thank goodness. He’s the same yesterday, today and forever, and He is loving, faithful and just. That never ceases to be true.
As far as what God has been teaching me about myself, I think it’s easy, especially in ministry, to forget that God is more concerned with what He does in us than what He does through us. He’s after relationship with deep heart change – that has to be our focus as well, and the foundation everything else flows from. We live in a results-oriented, celebrity-obsessed, fast paced world and even in ministry we can get so focused on our outward accomplishments (even accomplishments for God) that we begin to think if we don’t ‘perform’ well or produce the results we expect of ourselves, God loves us less. But that’s a lie! It’s such a freeing thing to realize that God loves us fully and completely as we are, and He’s actively using every situation and season to sanctify us and make us more like Jesus. That’s the way He’s really going to impact the world through us, by refining us from the inside out so less of us is seen and Jesus radiates through.
5. The first single on the album is called “Empty Handed”- and though from first glance it could seem like an odd choice to all a song, it is actually one of my favourite songs on the album. What I reckon the song speaks about, is we ought to come as we are to the Lord- even if it means we come empty handed to be filled with God’s grace and mercy. What has the song meant to you as you were recording it (and now performing it live)? Has the song been ministering to people on the road, and what are some of the encouraging stories you have heard from the impact of “Empty Handed” (or any other song from One More Step)?
Yes! “Empty Handed” is basically a celebration, that although we come to God with nothing but righteousness as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6), He welcomes us and bestows His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21, Philippians 3:8-10, Romans 5:17) and ‘every spiritual blessing’ (Ephesians 1:3) on us when we come to Him with faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross. What an awesome exchange. Our nothing for His everything. As I was recording the song and even now, it’s reminded me to live the way the Apostle Paul did after his encounter with Jesus, in awestruck wonder at how insanely blessed we are because of Jesus. It’s been really cool to hear people respond to that truth as I’ve started playing ‘Empty Handed’ and a few other new songs live. It’s an amazing thing to see people you’ve never met before connect in their own unique way with songs that feel like extremely personal journal entries. Music is powerful. It’s 100% God’s Spirit at work. God using a simple offering to draw people to Himself. I often feel like the boy in John 6 who offered his few loaves and fishes to Jesus and got to see God use that humble offering for His glory. How crazy that we get to partner with Jesus! That’s where the song ‘A Little’ came from.
6. What has been the overall highlight of the whole process of making One More Step? Were there any difficult songs to write, sing or even record, either because they were based on personal experiences of yourself or others? What has God used to speak to you more- the songs that were easiest to write or the hardest?
Man, each song feels like a mile-marker of different major moments over the past few years, but I’d say both the hardest and easiest song to write was ‘One More Step.’ Obviously it’s about my dad, who has been in heaven since February of 2012. I had been a little scared of trying to write a song for/about him after he went to be with Jesus. I think I was nervous it would be too painful to write about and was worried I’d feel like the song didn’t capture and honor our relationship the way I really wanted to. The day my friend and producer Jeff Pardo and I sat down to write, we actually did not start the day with the goal of writing about my dad. It just sort of developed as we discussed song topics and it really felt like it was the right time. I felt God’s presence and peace so strongly that day, and the song came flowing out in a really unique, healing way. It was difficult leading up to writing the song, but that day the concept, melody and lyrics all came together beautifully and I’m so grateful God allowed me to honor my beloved dad this way. I’m praying He’ll use it to comfort others who have lost loved ones, and as a reminder that none of us know how much time we have left, along with treasuring and using the precious time He’s given us to love and bless those around us.
7. Who do you look up to in the music industry, either as a spiritual mentor, or someone you ask advice from? If anyone reading this interview is wanting to move into the music industry, what would you say to them as advice- how would you succeed in the industry with your values intact?
I’m a huge believer in community. I’m a worship leader at my home church in Nashville (Fellowship Bible Church), my husband and I are in a church small group, and I have an incredible group of girlfriends in the music industry who keep me grounded and connected. Each of those different community groups are vital to me staying focused on why I do what I do for the glory of Jesus. These people know me super well and can point me to Jesus in truth and love. They all have my permission and blessing to speak into my life and I trust (and want) them to do so. I’d encourage anyone stepping into any form of ministry, and especially the music ministry, to get really connected into their home church. We live in a culture that’s constantly trying to get us to focus on, admire, and ultimately worship ourselves, so it’s extremely important to intentionally surround ourselves with people who will remind us to take up our cross daily and die to ourselves.
I’d also encourage them to be faithful stewards of what God has entrusted to them for this particular season and allow Him to open the doors He wants to open in His (not our) perfect timing. A wise woman in my life once pointed out to me that a large portion of Jesus’ ministry was done ‘on the way’ somewhere. This means the people around Jesus thought His real ministry was happening later on, when He reached their agreed upon destination. On the road to Jerusalem, or wherever He was headed, Jesus encountered and ministered to the people in His path. He gave sight to the blind. He healed the lame. He knew all along these were the people He was meant to come in contact with, the people right in front of Him. How often do I miss taking the time to minister to the lady in the grocery check-out line because I’m ‘on my way’ to my ‘real’ ministry? Let’s be focused on where God has us TODAY, and trust that God is working all things together for our good (Romans 8:28) in the future.
8. Which artist on your label (Centricity Music) or your previous label (Reunion Records) do you most admire currently? Which artist has influenced your music the most?
Wow…tough question. Steven Curtis Chapman (currently at Provident Label Group) was the first artist I ever saw in concert and the first album I purchased (Signs of Life). To say I’m a superfan would be an understatement. I’d say his and Nichole Nordeman’s writing have influenced me/my music probably more than any other artist or songwriter. Their songs still inspire me and lead me to the feet of Jesus, which in my opinion, is the ultimate goal for a Jesus following songwriter! I’m also a massive Jason Gray fan (I’ve had his new album on repeat pretty much non-stop recently), so I’m honored and beyond excited to be touring with him and my other extremely talented labelmates, Unspoken and Carrollton, this fall.
9. Any artist that you haven’t toured with yet that you would love to tour with in the near future? Any other touring plans for the remainder of 2014?
As I mentioned, I’ll be touring with Jason Gray, Unspoken, and Carrolton this fall. I’ve been a Christian music fan since I was young so getting to tour with some of my favorite artists has been an absolute dream come true. God has been incredibly kind to me, especially in regards to touring. Every past and future tour date is 100% icing on the cake for this CCM superfan.
10. Which song on One More Step are you the most excited for in terms of playing it live at concerts? For me, I reckon that songs like “Jesus Be”, “Mess Like Me” and “With the Brokenhearted” would sound great live. By the way, if Brandon is not touring with you, who’s going to sing his parts in “With the Brokenhearted”?
I guess I’m going to have to figure out the duet piece as the tour dates come. Brandon singing on the album was a highlight for me for sure. He’s a great friend and an artist I have an immense amount of respect for. I’m definitely looking forward to playing “With the Brokenhearted” live. It was written from Psalm 34:18, which God used in a huge way to comfort my husband’s and my grieving heart after we lost my dad, and more recently with my brother-in-law. It’s a special testimony song to our family.
11. Has there ever been a song that you have sung in concerts that you didn’t think would have the impact that it currently does? Or has there been a song where you thought should’ve had the impact that it currently doesn’t? What has God shown you through both/either circumstance?
I honestly wondered when I first began singing ‘One More Step” live if people would be able to connect with a song that’s so personal and specific to my story about my dad. It’s been powerful and really humbling to begin to hear stories from people who have lost a parent or a loved one and were touched by the song. There are also people who heard it and were encouraged to try to mend and restore (by God’s grace) broken relationships, while there’s still time to do so. Every story I’m privileged to hear is a testimony to me of Romans 8:28, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.I’m so thankful He chooses to use ordinary people and simple songs for His glory.
12. You have been in the music industry for a while, releasing your Lay it Down EP in 2004 and a 2008 album called ‘Ready’ (both independently…though I can’t find Ready on iTunes- is it going to re-released digitally?). What keeps you grounded and places things in perspective as you travel and create music? Is there any song, or Bible verse, or even famous quote that reminds you about why you do what you do and the motivation behind it all?
Well first, my husband is an incredible encourager. He points me to Jesus and has encouraged me to keep writing and singing in the moments I’ve felt like giving up. He’s amazing! More than anyone else, he keeps me grounded and constantly reminds me that this (our lives –not just my music) is all for Jesus. Also, I said this earlier, but I’m so thankful to have an amazing group of women around me, fellow female CCM artists and artist wives, whom I can text when I’m going through something tough or need advice. They’re wise women of the Word and they speak life and truth to my heart when I’m weary or struggling with something. We try to get together as often as possible (when our crazy travel schedules allow) and their encouragement and camaraderie means the world to me. As far as a motivational song goes, ‘I’d Rather Have Jesus’ has to be one of my favorite hymns of all time. My eyes almost automatically tear up when I hear it. The song just says it all and helps keep everything in perspective.
13. For anyone who is reading this interview and is feeling discouraged or down, either because of something in their life currently or something spoken over them, what can you say to them?
You are loved, treasured and highly valued by the God who holds the universe in the palm of His hand. He sent His only Son to save YOU. He is sovereignly weaving and working all things together for your good, will finish the good work He began inside of you, and has a plan for your life to show you off as a trophy of grace for His glory (Jeremiah 29:11). That’s some incredible truth! Don’t believe the lies Satan wants to speak over your life. I struggled with eating disorders all through high school, and one of the greatest breakthroughs in my healing and recovery was when I began to believe what God said about who I am and really recognize the lies the enemy was trying to sell me. My dear friend Mandisa, always reminds me that it’s not enough to just recognize a lie. We must combat it and replace it by planting the TRUTH deep in our hearts. Start here and continue to dig deeper into the vast, unending ocean of His love and His promises. Jesus. loves. YOU.
14. Anything unique about you that people may not know? (P.S.- we have at least one thing in common- I am a twin too, and my brother’s also a fan of your music- and also reviews on 365 Days of Inspiring Media!)
I was going to say that I’m a twin but I guess you already knew that. That’s so fun that you’re a twin as well! Hmmm…I guess something interesting about me is that I LOVE to travel. Through my dad’s Air Force career and mission’s trips, I’ve been able to visit over 30 countries. My family has a “who’s visited the most countries” competition going (that I am not currently winning!) and it’s fierce.
15. Is there anything else that you would like to add that hasn’t been covered in this interview yet? Any parting words, encouragements or even confronting pearls of wisdom you are willing to part with and hopefully impact the readers of this interview with?
One of my favorite quotes is from one of my pastors at my home church, as he always reminds us, ‘don’t let the world teach you theology.’ In a day where following Jesus of the Bible is becoming increasingly less popular and people are allowing themselves to be swept up by whichever culturally trendy belief wind blows the hardest, let’s continue to encourage and exhort one another to run the race with faithfulness and perseverance. Let’s stay in the Word, live lives of gratitude and love selflessly. I’ll close with Colossians 3:16, Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Blessings, friends!
Be sure to check out Lindsay’s new album One More Step releasing August 19th. Til then, here is the lyric video of ‘Empty Handed’ below.