Singer-songwriter Michael Farren earlier this month released his much-anticipated debut solo album, Fighting For Us, on Integrity Music. Produced by fellow songwriter Hank Bentley, Farren's first full-length studio project delivers eleven songs woven around themes of belonging and identity, including the title track, "Fighting For Us," of which Farren says, "I've never needed a song more."
About two years ago, Farren found himself face to face with a crisis of faith. With a resume which includes worship pastor and such notable achievements as a Grammy Award nomination and multiple Dove Award wins, it was not something that he ever expected to experience 25 years into his walk with Christ.
Having penned songs recorded by everyone from Lauren Daigle and Michael W. Smith to Reba McEntire, this son and grandson of Baptist preachers nevertheless found himself in the darkest season of his life. So he began writing the songs he needed most at the time, and those folksy Americana-tinged modern hymns and laments eventually turned into Fighting For Us.
The former frontman of worship band Pocket Full Of Rocks and currently a worship pastor based in Franklin, Tenn., Farren says recording an album was never on his agenda. After his band stopped recording and touring, he settled into his role at his local church and continued doing what he loves most - writing for his own congregation.
"I've always written for the 700 people in front of me at my church," says Farren. "If songs were cut by other artists, great. But the songs that have driven me most through the years are the ones I wrote for the people I serve. Otherwise, I hold songs loosely... my songs always seemed to be for someone else."
Then, two years ago, Farren found himself in the midst of deep disappointments, family struggles and feeling as though the God he had always served had abandoned him. It was during this period of God's silence that Farren met with fellow songwriter Krissy Nordhoff for a songwriting session. Rather than the song he had planned on penning that day, he says "Fighting For Us" just "fell out as we wept."
At times raw and often confessional, each song on Fighting For Us, holds a special meaning for Farren. From the opening declaration "I Belong To Jesus (Oh Hallelujah)" and modern hymn "Oh Praise (The Only One)" to the bluesy radio single "Prisoners" and call-and-response of "Where Is God?" each song reflects Farren's walk through and out of the fire.
Adding the perfect benediction to the project is the simple, quiet promise found in the closing track "Loved & Known":
Every heart that has run away / Has doubted the distance that Your love would go
But every heart finds out the same / We've always been loved and known
"I'm a pretty solid guy, been around church my whole life," says Farren. "And yet I am shocked that I have asked some of the questions that I've asked of God in the last couple of years. Things I would never have imagined that I would have wrestled with. And that is kind of the whole point of all of this... of this album, of these songs. It is giving people permission to ask the hard questions."
"Lament in the truest sense, in the safety of a holy place, with safe people, allows you to grieve," explains Farren. "You can lament, wrestle, kick and scream. And then you walk out of it... true, holy lament will always reorient you to the One who can give life and hope and peace, the one who rewrites our hearts."
In addition to guest writer Nordhoff, Fighting For Us also include songs co-written with Matt Redman, Bentley, Corey Voss, Dustin Smith, Tony Wood, Alisa Turner, and Ben Shive. The project also features a version of "Come Alive (Dry Bones," a song that Farren cowrote with Lauren Daigle, presented here with a roots backdrop of banjo, mandolin, and pedal steel.
Fighting For Us is available for streaming and download everywhere now, with links to most digital platforms available here and worship/song resources available at WeAreWorship.comand Integrity Music's ministry partners
Click below to watch the story behind the album's title track, "Fighting For Us," or click here to watch on YouTube:
Fighting For Us Track List:
1. "I Belong To Jesus (Oh Hallelujah)"
2. "Praise The King"
3. "Fighting For Us"
5. "Always Have Jesus"
6. "Goodness & Mercy"
7. "Where Is God?"
8. "Oh Praise (The Only One)"
9. "Come Alive (Dry Bones)"
10. "As It Is In Heaven"
11. "Loved & Known/I Belong To Jesus"