Singer/songwriter Amy Grant has recently released her album “How Mercy Looks From Here.” This is her first full-length studio album with all new material in over 10 years. She has done a lot of living and a lot of writing in between projects and the result is an album full of songs that matter…just like her mom wanted her to sing (get the story on that in the interview below). With family and friends such as husband Vince Gill, James Taylor, Carole King, Will Hoge, Eric Paslay, and Sheryl Crow lending their voices to the project, Amy has made possibly her most creative and profound album to date. CMTT had the opportunity to talk to her about this album and she shared stories behind the songs, all about her time in the studio, being creative, her inspirations and much more!
CMTT: It has been 10 years since your last full studio album, what made you feel like this was the right time to make one.
Amy Grant: I never quit making music; I have been writing and recording. I have a great record company right now and it’s Capitol Christian Music Group, and I think the best thing to say is it was just timing. My 3 older kids have successfully launched, my record company believed in the songs I was writing, I was introduced to an amazing producer, and just enough time had passed since my mother had died and I felt really energized creatively.
CMTT: I know something your mother said before she passed had a really profound impact on you. How did that influence you when making this album?
Amy Grant: I dedicated this album to my mom because of a conversation we had two months before she died, but I didn’t go into the studio holding a banner with my mother’s name. I went into the studio playing the producer the songs I have been writing. When it was all said and done and I was writing my liner credits I remembered that conversation I had with my mom. Basically she didn’t remember who I was on this particular night and I explained to her I was going to sing at some shows and that I was a songwriter. When I was about to leave she called out to me and asked me to do her a favor. She said, “Will you do me a favor? When you get on that stage, sing something that matters.” The way she said it was just so inspiring. I worked so hard on this record for a year, loving every minute. It was so fun, and the producer asked me to be at the studio as much as possible. I would take projects to work on, and he told me it just added to the creative energy. What 51-year-old gets to go to work with a guitar and an art bag? That was my experience making this record. When it was all done, through it all, I just thought “Thank you mom, thank you.” Then I thought of that conversation and realized what if all this energy came from her?
CMTT: You had a lot of family and friends lend their voice to this project. How did you decide whom you wanted to sing on what?
Amy Grant: The only song I knew who was going to be on it going in was the song “Deep As It Is Wide” and that’s because it is by Eric Paslay, so he sang on it with me. I would always talk to him about that song he wrote. I knew it would be great for the audience that I sing to. I asked him about doing a totally different version of the song with him, Sheryl Crow and me. Eric liked the idea, and so I said I was calling Sheryl right away. Lady Antebellum wanted to do that song, Little Big Town wanted to do that song…it was 6 years old and I have loved it for years. Every other song I decided after it was recorded. After I recorded “Shovel in Hand” I knew I wanted a ragged voice on the backing part. Marshall (my producer) said, “Let’s get Will Hoge.” On the song “Our Time is Now” my kids were singing on the background parts, and we also got my dad on it (despite his dementia). In December I got a chance to be a part of a Carole King benefit show and asked her to lend her voice to the song. Everything just happened like that, it was what the song called for.
CMTT: The title track is “How Mercy Looks From Here.” What does that song mean to you?
Amy Grant: It reminds me of so many experiences in my life. As awful as something is, once you are in it, you find your experience is not what you feared it would be. There is always something in the midst of the hard time that makes you realize that this thing I was so afraid of and I dreaded, as awful as it might be, there is always mercy in the middle of it.
CMTT: What do you want fans to know most about this album?
Amy Grant: The great thing about getting older is that I feel the circumstances of life have improved my tool kit. I am not saying I am a better person, I am still haphazard and think I can fix everything with duct tape, but I feel the benefit of having lived. Unlike any other record I have made that I felt was sort of about me, I feel this record is more about life. It is about the invaluable experience of framing even hard times in a way you see the value. Not because you are being Pollyanna, but because there is something valuable. I feel like these songs are helpful, I don’t know if I will ever make another record like this.
This album is truly something special. Amy has a way with words that expresses life’s ups and downs. “How Mercy Looks From Here” is available now. For more information about Amy and where you can catch her on the road visit www.amygrant.com