Friday, August 21, 2009

Meet Out of the Grey

Meet Out of the Grey (From Christian Book)

There is an undeniable joy in discovering something new within something familiar.
It could be as abstract as seeing a new aspect of a painting you’ve looked at hundreds of times. It could be as sublime as noticing how the person you love tilts their head back just so when they laugh.

Or it could be as thrilling as seeing two incredibly talented people recapture the magic of musical creation through a set of songs that at once respect their past and point excitedly toward their future.
Say hello, once again, to Scott and Christine Denté - Welcome to Out of the Grey, 6.1.

It has been a decade since Out of the Grey released their self-titled debut album, quickly cementing Christine’s breathy, ethereal vocals and Scott’s intricate guitar work as fan favorites. To this day, many fans hearken back to that first record as their favorite, judging the group’s subsequent work against the high-set bar the debut provided. Ten number one singles on the four following studio projects and four Dove Awards proved their longevity, and yet their recent four-year interim with no new music had fans wondering if the group would ever return.

"In 1999, standing at a career crossroads, we wondered if the Out of the Grey chapter was closing for us," says Scott. "Our friends, family and fans encouraged us to start again and after much prayer and many late night conversations, we felt the desire to jump back in. Opportunities arose but then would either fade or become cloudy. Finally, in late 2000, we arrived at Rocketown, and it all clicked!"

Lessons learned in the past ten years… kids, work, life… have brought a hard-earned maturity to the Dentés’ music. They truly believe the songs on 6.1, their sixth studio project and first for their new label home, Rocketown Records, showcase both the energy of their earliest project and the experience, yet willingness to experiment, that time provides.

"I really felt a little more comfortable listening to the early versions of the songs and thinking, ‘OK, where can we go with these?’" says Scott. "I think the songs dictated what they wanted to be and we let them become that, instead of forcing them into other slots. Christine adds, "I think we’re finally feeling comfortable with who we are, where we’ve been, and what we are right now."

What they are now is a creative force, both musically and lyrically, who are not only in lockstep with each other’s talents, but open enough to maximize the opportunities that arise in working with another creative force, this time producer, Monroe Jones (Third Day, Ginny Owens, Caedmon’s Call), who stepped in and stepped up the job of channeling the duo’s exceptional energy.

"We’re pretty much in awe of him right now," Scott says. "He’s just a great painter, he loves to just mix it up, and we clicked on a real peer level, rather than a teacher-student level that we had in the past. It was a real ‘let’s just all get in a room and make music together’ thing."

The result is an exciting hybrid of spirit and attitude, reflected both by 6.1’s lyrical subject matter and its musical invention. Wrapped around Christine’s expressive vocals are sonic textures both familiar and unique to Out of the Grey’s previous work. Consider "Truth Breaks Through," a loping, groove-filled breakdown based more on rhythm than melody, and built on the observation that "change will come when love shows up."

In "What’s It Gonna Be?" Out of the Grey put aside the guitar-based aspect of the partnership and set out on purpose to present Christine’s voice within the context of a piano-driven song. "A lot of the piano-based songs I write become guitar songs, but Monroe was, like, ‘Let’s not do that this time,’" Christine explains.

Then there’s "Shine Like Crazy," 6.1’s opener and first single, which, like the chorus says, "shimmers like the sun." With the album almost finished, the two took a step back and realized that the album was leaning on the ballad side. Scott went to Monroe with his concern.

"I told him I had something that might work as an upbeat song," he says. "I played it for him and he said, ‘Oh, yeah!’ So we finished this tune, demo-ed it, lobbied hard to go record it, went in and in one, three-hour session, got all the basics down. And it’s turned out to be the first single! A lot of records have stories like that, but that’d never happened to us."

Right alongside taking chances musically on 6.1 comes opening the book of their lives and letting the world take a peek at what’s going on inside.

"We tend to want to circle the wagons when it comes to things like protecting our children," Christine says. "We tend to live conservatively that way, and then we have to look inside and ask, ‘Are we living in fear? Are we living in a faithless way when we try to cover all these bases when there are sometimes things you can’t control?’"

"So thematically, there’s a lot of stuff about not holding on too tightly to the things of this life," adds Scott. "And things about stepping out and living live, being bold."

"For us, we don’t ever sit down to write and say, ‘Today we’re going to help people with fear,’" Scott explains. "I think sometimes people craft songs in a way that’s an attempt to solve the problem in the song. We don’t often solve problems in our songs; we point to the problem and help to explain it. It’s really just an expression of trying to figure these things out for ourselves."

"Just because you write it, doesn’t mean you have the answer," Christine says. "The art of songwriting allows you the luxury of writing about something you really haven’t gotten down yet."

"I think Christine showed her heart on this record. She’s been challenged in the past not to be so heady, but when you try to be cool, you get a little distance from the audience," Scott continues. "It’s cool to be clever, alliteration is your friend, but sometimes you give up the heart a little bit."

The songs on 6.1 not only show the couple’s heart, but help to quicken the listener’s pulse a bit along the way as well. For music fans, it’s again the result of joy. Joy in finding something new in something familiar.