Telling a Different Story: Jon Thurlow Discusses a New Album and Perseverance in Crisis
by Adam Wittenberg
Artists and Authors
When Jon Thurlow set out to make his ninth album (Different Story, available Nov. 17 from Forerunner Music), he had no idea it would take three years to complete.
The veteran worship leader at International House of Prayer of Kansas City started talking with Brown Bannister, legendary multi-Dove and Grammy-Award-winning Nashville producer in 2014, but several factors delayed the process, including life and personal circumstances.
The wait was not in vain, however, as multi-talented impresario Ben Shive (Laura Hackett Park, Brandon Heath, Bebo Norman, JJ Heller, Andrew Peterson) joined the project, helping yield an anointed album of musical excellence that Jon hopes will propel many listeners deeper in their relationship with God.
Here, in his own words, Jon describes the making of Different Story.
Tell us about the title track.
It started with a melody, which is not uncommon for me. It was really catchy but it took a while to develop the lyrics. I had Anna Blanc (a singer and worship leader at IHOPKC) help me with the lyrics.
When I was talking to Brown about it, he pointed out how the Lord takes the broken storylines of our lives and redeems them through Jesus, which helped me flesh out the original thought. It’s a very hopeful song, an anthem. It’s probably one of the strongest songs on the album.
What do you hope listeners will get from it?
I’m looking forward to the Lord encouraging people through that song. To a believer, it can help them remember what the Lord’s done. For every believer there’s ups and downs, mountains and valleys. When you’re in a lower point, it can feel sometimes even more discouraging because you’ve been walking with the Lord all these years and yet you’re in a tough situation again. There can be a heaviness that sets in, and the enemy can take advantage of that.
In this song, the Lord is saying, “Remember how I’ve been faithful to you in the past, how I’ve redeemed your story, and let it give you hope right now. When you’re up against the wall again, let My work in your life, the history that you have with Me, sustain you.”
And for unbelievers, I want them to be curious:
“For breaking my chains,
Setting my heart free,
This is a different story.”
I want it to give them a fresh idea that maybe there’s a different way to life. Maybe they’re hitting a low point and they hear that He’s a “healer, redeemer, and restorer.” I hope it makes them curious to want to search out the Lord!
Talk about some of the delays in making the album.
This album is a God story. I connected with Brown three years ago and began writing songs, but both Brown and I had a series of storms we were walking through in our own lives, families, and worlds.
My wife, Kinsey, lost her dad suddenly in 2015. It was totally unexpected, out of the blue. We both needed to pause. In the middle of it, at times I was feeling discouraged, like “is this album ever going to get completed?”
What was the fruit of waiting?
Our song list changed over time, and some songs written in the midst of these storms are actually some of the strongest ones on the album. These songs are timely for the season we’re in as a nation and for the world.
In crisis, we need to dial back down to the basics of God’s love for us and our love for Him. The songs are conversational. Some are prayers to the Lord, and some are the Lord’s thoughts and words, expressing His heart toward us.
I come away from the delay with gratitude. I say, “Lord, You really did break through on this project.”
Which songs would you like to highlight?
There are eleven songs on the album, and nine of them are new. On “Still Looking Back at Me” (from Jon’s 2014 EP Walking Through the Night), we did a beautiful version with live strings. It’s very emotional, and I feel the music really captured the emotion well.
There’s a fresh spin on “Shout Your Name” (title track from the 2016 Onething Live album) that’s a little more pop-y, and the vocal really accentuates the message.
This is the first recording of “Your Love is Better,” which I’ve been doing for the last year or two in the IHOPKC Prayer Room. I love how that song came together, and I’m excited to have a recorded version of it.
Tell us your overall hope for the album.
I want it to be an on-ramp for listeners to connect to the Lord. Whether in prayer back to God, or through a song coming from the Lord’s heart back to us, I want them to feel a pull back to Jesus.
When I hear feedback about my music or songs from people that it helped them connect with the Lord, I’m like, “Ok. Mission accomplished.”
Question: How has God changed your story?
Different Story is available from Forerunner Music on iTunes, Amazon, and from the Forerunner Bookstore. Learn more »
A Detroit native who was raised in Vermont and Connecticut, Adam worked as a newspaper journalist until 2012, when he moved to Kansas City to complete the Intro to IHOPKC internship. Afterwards, he earned a four-year certificate in House of Prayer Leadership from IHOPU and is now on full-time staff in the Marketing department at IHOPKC. He also serves in the NightWatch (overnight prayer hours) and is active in evangelism. He, and his wife Stephany, have a vision to reach people everywhere with the good news of Jesus Christ.