Listen: Katrina Roe interviews Colin Buchanan. Above: Katrina and Colin in the studio.
Australia’s number one kids Christian artist and nine-times Golden Guitar winner, Colin Buchanan, is back at it again.
Best known these days for his children’s albums, it’s been nine years since his last non-kids music release—but he’s now breaking the silence with his new album, Calvary Road.
This week Hope 103.2’s Katrina Roe caught up with Colin to chat about his 20 years in the industry, and the heart of the new album.
Colin’s Creative Process
Describing himself as an “instinctive songwriter”, Colin said he writes songs when the inspiration hits him, as opposed to sitting down and writing to a deadline for the next project.
“Virtually every project I do, almost regardless of what it is, involves tidying my desk, pulling bits of half-written songs out of the various piles, corralling of ideas,” he said.
It was when he’d built up a collection that this album emerged.
“I’d just noticed there’s been some songs sitting there and a file marked ‘Calvary Road’,” he said. “They’re songs, for example, from when someone’s asked me to come to a men’s breakfast – and they’re not getting me to sing Baa Baa Do Baa Baa.
“There’s some songs that explain the Christian faith in a grass-roots way, that paint portraits of faith that’s more arresting.”
Songs that Build Bridges
Colin said he’s hoping the album will introduce people to his faith in a way that builds bridges, rather than turning people off. “I also hope that it’s a refreshing way for Christians to reconsider the life of Jesus and celebrate faith,” he said.
“One song that I really have enjoyed playing is You’d Like Jesus because it’s about presenting the surprising character of Jesus. He sticks up for the little guy, he says things bravely, he’s compassionate, and he gets in the trenches and risks a bullet.
“Those things are good to sing about for people who think that Christianity’s just religion. It’s great to bring the historical Jesus [to people] and say ‘if he walked in here today, I think you’d like him and be surprised by him’.
“And in the end, what you think of him is the secondary question, it’s what he thinks of you.”
“I was sitting at home and the ‘song lightning struck’, and out came the song.”
Another of the new songs is about his dad, called The Hardest Thing, written after his father’s death in 2015.
“I always thought I’d write a song about him, and I was sitting at home and the ‘song lightning struck’, and out came the song.”
Other tracks include Faith Smiles – a portrait of a woman called Heather who had a joyful faith even on her death bead; Outside the Camp, which explores how Jesus stepped away from safety into the horror and danger of the cross, and a song with the intriguing title, Jesus Was Converted.
On Writing Songs for Kids
Colin explained how he takes Christian children’s music just as seriously as his adult writing.
“Rather than kids music being ‘any old thing’, when it comes to kids, Jesus talks about how careful you’ve got to be with teaching children – that you don’t sell them a lie,” he said. “You’ve got to really have your wits about you and think, ‘how am I not diluting, but distilling God’s truth’.
“Even though you have lots of fun and kooky musical moments I think it’s been a great ongoing songwriting challenge – that makes that stuff feel not that far from what I’m doing now for adults.”
In a chat with Australia Country Radio Colin said he feels Calvary Road is “a satisfying album for anyone, regardless of what they believe”.
Colin’s Live Performance
After the chat, Colin treated us to an acoustic of the album’s first track, Outside the Camp.