In an interview with American Songwriter, 24-year-old singer-songwriter, Chris Renzema, posed the question, “How does Christian music fit into what I love about music?” There was a momentary silence, in which the unassuming young artist seemed to examine every angle of his own question. He then answered assuredly, “I love Jesus and I love music and that’s why I make what I make.”
Renzema emerged in 2014 with his independently released EP, “Age to Age” featuring the hit single, “You’re the Only One,” followed by his highly acclaimed freshman record, “I’ll Be the Branches,” in 2018. He has become best known for his ability to infuse the most recognizable and sought-after elements of folk and Americana into the sincerest form of worship music. Renzema, by way of his debut record with Centricity Music, “Let the Ground Rest” in 2020, is prescribing raw, honest songwriting as good medicine to a world in pain.
“There’s kind of a few ways to approach music,” shares Renzema, “One is to get it all perfect because you can. The other, is to make it in such a way that people can tell a human-being made it. ’Let the Ground Rest’ is by far the most humanrecord I’ve gotten to make.”
Drenched in gorgeous string arrangements and backed by an uplifting chorus, the opening track, “Springtime,” sets and maintains an inspirational tone woven throughout the remainder of the record and showcases Renzema’s strongest songwriting to date. Balancing dancing piano melodies, spirited vocal performances, golden horns, and mellow acoustic guitars, “Let the Ground Rest,” recorded and engineered by distinguished Nashville producer, Paul Moak, is a celebration of life that is sure to leave the listener feeling refreshed.
“Pain like thorns / Growing in a garden / One by one / Removed by careful hands / ‘Til everything else is gone / And all that remains is beautiful / You’re not finished yet / You’re not finished yet.” Renzema sings in “Not Finished Yet.” His gritty, yet tender tenor coupled with his inclination to candid lyricism are reminiscent of Jeff Tweedy and Marcus Mumford and his music will undoubtedly be a staple in the life of the church for years to come.
“The heartbeat behind ‘Let the Ground Rest’ is the idea that growth comes from periods of rest, of barrenness,” shares Renzema. “It’s a process to exist, to learn and understand God’s love. While His love is not seasonal, we go through seasons as we understand and experience it. Spring is not spring without winter, and that process is a good thing.”
Listen to the album’s lead single, “Springtime,” below.