Connection. It’s a word the world was forced to grapple with when we lost our ability to convene in 2020. How do we stay together when we have to be apart? What defines meaningful connection? And can we really find it screen to screen? With these questions swirling in his head, uncertainty hovered over Chris Renzema like an ominous cloud. Thanks to a canceled tour and a global pandemic, he had ample time to reflect, so the singer/songwriter did the thing that comes most naturally to him. He set words to melody. He soon realized, however, that there was a self-imposed obstacle standing between the isolation he felt and the empathy he desired to express. And it was in the tension of that moment that Get Out of the Way of Your Own Heart was born.
Since independently releasing I’ll Be The Branches in 2018, Renzema has built a loyal following, literally one fan at a time. Two years later, his Centricity Music debut, Let The Ground Rest, garnered the Michigan native 90 million streams, a spot on Pandora’s “Artist to Watch” list and a GMA Dove Award nomination for “New Artist of the Year.” All of this with little to no radio airplay. Renzema’s secret sauce? His live show—an emotional connection point for the transparent artist and his fans.
It was the strength and uniqueness of the live experience that Renzema was thinking about when he started to craft the semi-autobiographical Get Out of the Way of Your Own Heart at the beginning of what would be a long, unexpected year. Let The Ground Rest—a project ironically themed around Sabbath—had just dropped, and Renzema called on kindred spirit and former collaborator Hank Bentley (Crowder, Zach Williams) to help him plant new musical seeds. Together, they formed their own quarantine pod and hunkered down to co-write and co-produce what would become Renzema’s third full-length album.
“I think I pretty much celebrated the release of Let The Ground Rest by starting to write these songs,” Renzema shares. “When I started writing, it was just a creative outlet, a distraction. I definitely was not thinking of it in terms of an album or necessarily even songs that I was going to put out. I was just attempting to process the internal, mental and spiritual insanity of 2020.”
His close alignment with Bentley helped him sort his emotions, simply because their physical proximity meant he didn’t have to wade through his feelings in solitude. “Hank was such a lifeline,” Renzema reflects. “Our friendship became a pretty central part of the creative process, and at the same time, I didn’t have to process the insanity alone.”