LeAnn Rimes has never been one to shy away from the truth.
Rimes, 40, digs deep into topics that, while uncomfortable to some, stay true to herself and bring purpose to her powerful new album, god’s work. The award-winning artist debuted her 12-track project on Friday (September 16). Rimes previously explained that she opted to keep the entire album lowercased because: “If we’re arguing about why the ‘g’ is or isn’t capitalized, we’re missing the whole point. It’s so important for us to focus on the messages, rather than the nuances.”
god’s work is the 19th album Rimes has released, which was written and produced with friend and longtime collaborator Darrell Brown. She kicked off her trailblazing career as a teen, making history at 14 years old when she was the youngest person – and the first country artist – to win Best New Artist at the GRAMMY Awards (and is now featured in the GRAMMY Museum’s The Power of Women in Country Music exhibit). Her first No. 1 hit, “Blue,” paved the way for dozens of other fan-favorite songs. Rimes marked 26 years as a recording artist in July, and before that, celebrated with a CMT Crossroads special that also featured Mickey Guyton, Brandy Clark, Carly Pearce and Ashley McBryde.
Now, Rimes’ latest album is “a beautiful journey” – three years in the making – and serves as the dawn of a “new chapter.” Rimes promises a roller coaster of emotions throughout god’s work, facing rage and grief head-on while savoring hope and joy:
- the only (Ft. Ziggy Marley, Ledisi, and Ben Harper)
- how much a heart can hold
- throw my arms around the world
- the wild (Ft. Sheila E. and Mickey Guyton)
- god’s work (Ft. Robert Randolph, Mickey Guyton, and Tata Vega)
- something better’s coming
- imagined with love
- there will be a better day
- i do (duet by Aloe Blacc and LeAnn Rimes)
“After nearly three years of creating this record, I couldn’t be more excited to release god’s work out into the world. This project is more genre-bending than anything I’ve ever done before, and I have the amazing group of featured artists to thank in part for that,” Rimes said as her album released on Friday. “god’s work will break your heart and heal it all within the same breath. My hope for this record is that everyone connects with the music in their own unique way, discovering something new about themselves and the complexities of life in the process. This album is a reclamation of god for myself and the lowercase ‘g’ really represents the duality of this record and where humanity meets spirit.”
Rimes caught up with iHeartRadio to mark the release of god’s work. Read her Q&A – and listen to some of the songs from god’s work – below (some responses have been edited for length or clarity).
iHR: What's it been like for you to get to share some of the tracks over the last several months and to finally get to release the full project now?
LR: I think (fans have) fallen in love with the record… I'm so proud of this music. The rest of the record is just as fantastic, I think, as the songs that we've released, and it's been a beautiful journey. I'm very excited to have it out, finally. I feel like I'm birthing a child in the world... I'm happy to have it in people's ears and in their hearts. It's an exciting time, for sure.
Do you have any favorite songs, or ones that you're especially excited for people to get to hear?
That is a tough question. I'm really excited for ‘spaceship.’ That's the one that people have yet to hear that (has) been really dear to my heart. I loved releasing songs like ‘the wild,’ because… Some of these topics I'm talking about on this record are heavy topics, or topics usually – especially as a woman – we don't really discuss. …Being able to discuss things like religion and sex and all the topics I was told as a child, ‘don't ever touch,’ I've created a whole album around them. It's cool to be able to touch upon the gamut of human emotion on this record. We dive into everything from rage (and) grief, to hope and joy. It's a very powerful record and it definitely takes you on a ride of feeling.
Some of the songs address tough topics, including mental health journeys and challenges women might face for expressing opinions... How did you approach these topics throughout god’s work?
It was coming from a very personal place in a lot of ways, because I was on my own journey of reclamation of my own spirituality and sexuality, and then the pandemic hit and we continued to write this record, and I think the pandemic really did inform the topics we started to dive into because…this seems to really have happened to the collective experience we're all having at the time.
It's timely. I think this music is timely. …Hopefully it will help (listeners) question how we're living this life, and can we create a more compassionate, loving, forgiving world for one another, instead of it just being a mental construct that we talk about? Can we actually live that out?
What was it like for you to pull from your own experiences and not only put that out in this album, but then see how it's resonating with others too?
I think really through this pandemic, we got to see that we’re very, very connected. …For me, it's an incredible gift and feeling as an artist to know, for one, that I'm not alone in this life, and to create art that connects with people on such a deep level. It's so powerful to be able to have that gift to be able to share it.
I'm not one, as a songwriter, to ever shy away from the truth or my own truth. I've written over the last three records, I think, some things that can be incredibly polarizing to people, but I think it's always from the heart… I don't believe in creating art from any other place. This album is kind of the culmination of my own journey of the last three records as a songwriter and as an artist. So, you know, really being able to dig deep and go to places that may be uncomfortable, but ultimately, at the end of the day, have a deep purpose.
How has collaborating with other artists helped to strengthen the whole project?
We talked about community a lot on this album, and I think we're really living it out in real time because I had so many fantastic collaborators on this record, and they're all very unique and they all bring their own style and vibe to each track. Everybody – I just started asking, and everyone just kept saying ‘yes,’ so it became this community of musicians who I think just truly love music and creating, and we're all very much of like minds and hearts with the messages that we're putting out into the world, and everybody is incredibly powerful. I couldn't have made this record without them. (I’m) truly so grateful for everyone.
You celebrated a couple of big milestones recently: your anniversary as a recording artist and your 40th birthday. Do you consider releasing god's work to be another milestone moment for you?
Celebrating 25 years before I turned 40 – it’s actually 26 years before I turned 40 – was kind of a weird milestone for me, because usually with that kind of milestone, you're much older. …I'm so grateful for the last 26 years, but I also feel like there's still so much more that I want to do, and so I feel like god's work is kind of a timestamp of the new journey, the new chapter. There's kind of a timestamp to god's work for me that feels very new and fresh and very much a marker of where I'm headed.
What were some of your biggest inspirations throughout this album?
My inspirations came from life, mostly. I'm constantly listening to conversations that people are having – I’m constantly eavesdropping, is basically what I'm saying! – I’m looking at art all the time, and just watching life around me. …god’s work seems to fit. It kind of was the umbrella that everything else fell under. I mean, all the creation falls under that. …a little bit of everything in life seems to seep in.
You’ve been on your ‘the story…so far tour,’ and you're getting ready for the (‘JOY: The Holiday Tour’). Are there any of these songs that you're especially looking forward to singing live, and seeing how people react to them live?
We've been playing some of the songs live, which has been incredible because I feel like every time we play a new song, it's like we just played a hit song because...between the messages and the rhythm of this record, they feel like they already know these songs. We play ‘god's work,’ and everybody becomes my choir at the end, singing along with me, and ‘the wild’ (has) been incredible to see, just women weeping. People kind of don't know what to do with themselves when I start the song, and by the end they can't stop clapping. It's so powerful. I've been playing from the new music, but I'm excited now that the record (is out). We've been holding back a few songs just because I wanted the record to be out there first, and so now I'm gonna have free rein to play what I wish.
What do you hope that listeners will take away from (god’s work) when they get to listen to the whole album?
I hope it makes them sit and question a bit. I hope it makes them feel comforted to know that they're not alone in this world, in this crazy ride. I hope it makes them feel seen and heard and witnessed. …I really just hope that their heart is touched, and that they are moved and…they have a space within these songs to be able to express their own feelings and emotions. For me, you know, I've been to the dark wilderness myself, and I don't ask people to go there without having gone there before them, and I don't ever leave them there. We will break your heart and heal it all at the same time. It's a roller coaster ride of an album, and I hope people just take it in and are willing to go on it with me.