Singer, songwriter, and worship leader Matt Brock sings about relying on God through the death of loved ones, unemployment, and other hard times in his album "From the Land of Shadows."
"Through this vale of tears God is there, as much as we either deny it or don't believe it or try to fight it, he is there, and he's real, and he's big," Brock said in a Tuesday interview with The Christian Post. He said the album captures the troubles he and his wife have weathered through the last year and a half.
"I've been 'unemployed' for the past year and a half," the artist explained, listing his side jobs while pursuing his music career. He served as a worship leader at First Baptist Hendersonville, but now he works a valet job in downtown Nashville, dabbles in freelance photography and plays at high school retreats. He is also trying to get an engineering job with his 2010 degree from the University of Tennessee.
"We're still dealing with a lot of stuff that we were dealing with a year ago – self-doubt, not truly believing that this is where God wants me to be, thinking about calling it quits with music," he said.
But the album doesn't focus on his personal struggles, he said. The two anguished songs focus on his grandfather and a family his wife is connected to.
The song "You and Virginia" champions his grandfather's legacy, Brock explained. In a touching twist, it doesn't highlight his grandfather's job or the impact he made in the lives of strangers, but his relationship with his wife.
Brock reminisced about his grandma, "this quaint, fragile old lady laying down on the couch." Helpless, she had Alzheimer's and couldn't even remember her husband's name. Nevertheless, his grandfather cared for her, "waiting on her hand and foot, giving her a bath, feeding her, doing all these things that she couldn't do for herself anymore."
This "ridiculous" love struck the singer as "monumental," and reminded him of the love of Christ. "I feel like the way Christ relates to his bride is incredibly self-less, self-denying, vulnerable," he said, just like his grandfather's love for Virginia.
While "You and Virginia" focused on the death of his grandfather, "Hole In My Heart" touched on a passing that Brock said he witnessed almost impersonally. A family his wife knew well lost their baby girl, and the experience reminded him of "how incredibly brash this whole life can be, how unforgiving and real and honest" it is.
The passing that wounded the family so much, however, didn't seem to impact the child, the singer said. The baby reminded him of Tiny Tim, the poor boy who dies in Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol. The girl was "like a Tiny Tim who couldn't talk or do anything for himself but was also incredibly wise beyond his years."
The album, hauntingly rich in Americana and folk influences, also contains three worship songs, "You Forgive Me Still," "What Great Love," and "Oh My Soul It Faints." This blend of sorrow and worship culminates in the last song, "Land of Shadows," which Brock said carried deep meaning for him.
"That last song is like this hopeful gasp," the singer explained, comparing it to a swimmer's short breath before diving back into the waves. "That whole idea of something blocking the light – you're not in this void of darkness but you can't get around to the other side," he said. To illustrate the slow revelation of his reliance on God, he quoted the song's last line: "The eyes really are waking in the land of shadows."