Culled from the pages of Shane Barnard's journal, duo Shane and Shane's latest project documents a personal season of change and re-evaluation. It also charts a subtle refinement and maturing of their acoustic worship style, ranging from the powerful "Vision Of You" and "In You" to the rousing "Burn Us Up," the bluegrass-kissed "Beg," and the worshipful pop anthem, "We Love You, Jesus."
For fans of Shane & Shane, who recorded three consecutive projects from 2002 to 2004, the three years since Clean (2004) have seemed like an eternity. But the Shanes haven't been on creative hiatus. They released a live DVD while running both their recording studio and media company in Dallas, on top of touring relentlessly. The duo performs 250 dates a year, primarily in college markets, and are one of Christian music's top draws.
After living on the road for the better part of a decade, Barnard and musical partner Shane Everett took a three month break, during which Barnard wrote their upcoming album, Pages and the pair re-considered the purpose behind their music. "We'd never stopped for this long," says Everett. "That was the first time we had paused to evaluate life since we began writing and performing music full-time. We had to ask the important questions-- what are our goals? What are we doing here? Are we just playing music, or is it really something more? And how do we move forward from here?"
That at-times painful re-examination fueled the creative process for Pages.
The Shanes took another three months to record the album in their Spaceway Studios south of Dallas, Texas. "This is the first time since we built the studio that we've been able to enjoy it," says Everett. "We were able to put in eight hours a day and go home; it was a healthy working environment." The effect of this is evident on Pages. "Creatively it's a lot different. Parts-wise, everything feels more intentional than it's ever been," he says, which is evident in the artistic growth the project showcases.
Pages was produced alongside Will Hunt (Ginny Owens, Robbie Seay Band, and Ryan Cabrera), who also manages Spaceway. David Hodges (Evanescence, Charlie Hall, Kelly Clarkson) made a guest appearance on piano. But notably, the album was recorded with Shane and Shane's touring band, who give the songs more refined textures that complement the duo's soaring harmonies.
"Vision Of You," written perilously as Barnard drove the band tour bus one night, asks God "to do more than our songs can do in our concerts; confessing that more and more all we have are songs with words, wood, strings, and drums. It's asking Him to do something when we play. Even though He's everywhere, we're asking Him to come and stir hearts."
"Beg" is a song that Barnard describes as "honest - honest words about how much I don't love God as much as I want to, and what kind of posture and place that leaves me in at the end of the day. He commands of us to love him, and I don't feel like I can so many days. That leaves me in a bare place of crying out for help."
But for most listeners, their first exposure to Pages will be "We Love You Jesus," which Barnard wrote in a coffee shop. "I just heard it playing in the air. It's still unbelievable to me," says Barnard. "I went home and wrote it down, and we started singing it everyday. It's a poppy song of hope, but also a song about death.
The first line in the chorus says 'we love you for so many reasonsófor death, for life.' The second verse is about the passage in 1 Corinthians where it talks about taking the sting out of death. I flipped open my Bible to this random page, and it just fit. It felt like the song was written outside of me." The page, and the song, ended up not being so random.
In March, Barnard's father died unexpectedly. "One of the many helps for my family and me was that song, saying 'I love You because You save. You take the sting out of death.' My dad was a new believer. He saved him four years ago...I think that's why I heard it that day in the coffee shop. It was a gift of comfort," Barnard says.
Today, as Pages nears its launch, the Shanes' lives are looking different. They're scaling back their touring (though one might not notice that this fall, when they hit the road for 60 plus dates with Bebo Norman and Shawn McDonald). Everett and his wife Kellie just welcomed their first child, a little girl, and Barnard was recently engaged.
Further, the two have now more clearly defined their roles within the band. Everett is focused on managing the band, setting up their touring, and promoting the record, while Barnard devotes most of his time to writing.
"I feel like we're in a better place than we've ever been," says Everett. "I feel like we're just starting, like we're really moving forward in a lot of areas." Barnard says he's felt a new and specific calling on his life, an "intense and urgent call to not only preach the gospel but to minister for the Lord."
Pages serves to chart this process of refining and, ultimately, rededication in the lives of two of Christian music's most passionate performers.
For more information on Shane and Shane please visit www.shaneandshane.com.
Writer: Beau Black