Worship anthems are the “it” sound of this era in Christian music. It’s what gets played on radio, wins awards, and sells out arenas. However, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find more home-grown, authentic, and not “success-driven” expressions of worship. Enter Matt Case, a singer-songwriter and listener to UTR podcasts who decided recently to make a 20+ year dream come true. His new album If You Need Me just released this month (Available on Spotify, Available on Bandcamp), and is 7 original songs that reflect a sincere reverence for our Creator. We are excited to share the conversation we had with Matt this week:
UTR: Was music a part of your life growing up? And when did you start writing your own songs?
Matt: I was blessed with parents who encouraged us kids to really embrace music, yet not just for the sake of music itself, but as a method by which to glorify God. I took piano lessons for a couple of years when I was young but I didn’t really begin pursuing music on my own until about 11th grade when I picked up a guitar and found how much I enjoyed creating music. It was during my last year or so of high school when I began writing songs and over time it became something that I wanted to do more and more. However, I wasn’t interested in just creating any kind of songs, but songs that pointed to Christ; songs that encouraged myself (or the listener) in my walk with Him.
UTR: How has music played a role in your life in terms of worship and praise?
Matt: I was very blessed to be in a very active youth group at the church my family was attending at the time I began playing guitar. Within a year or so after first beginning to play guitar, our church decided to form a youth praise band to lead the youth group’s Wednesday night worship services. Of course, I jumped at the chance to a be a part of it and it was during that time when I found how much I loved being part of a group of believers leading the church in praise and worship. Unfortunately, the Church culture has changed so much in the last 25-30 years and there are so many times I look back at those years of leading youth and wonder ‘how did we (the Church) get to where we are today?’ As I have opportunities to visit other churches around the country, I am amazed to see how much “production” goes into the worship service. In fact, so much production that we often lose much of the actual “worship” of our Creator and instead look to be “entertained” by the created. So often today, churches require perfectly timed songs, with in-ear metronome, computer-aided song leading, fog machines, lights, motion graphics, etc., etc., etc. and I look around me and have to ask, ‘what are we doing?’ It seems in so many ways that churches feel they have to be on par with the latest commercial “worship” album or else people won’t attend their services. In my humble opinion, it is all so sad that the music-led worship of our God has slowly evolved to become a production of our man. Although I never attended seminary, I have always been able to be a part of leading worship music at whatever church we have attended since that time I began in high school. So for me, music has played an incredible part in my life as it relates to my own personal time with the Lord and also in my time of communal worship with my local body of believers. My hope is that the Lord will help all of us get back to that place of intimate worship where our eyes are on Him and not on us.
UTR: What were the decisions that led to you deciding to record and release your debut album, If You Need Me?
Matt: I began writing music in my senior year of high school and continued on for a while. However, life happened, as it does for everyone, and I put down my pen and guitar for several years as the Lord worked on me to mature as a husband and father. Nevertheless, it has always been a dream of mine to put together a collection of some of my songs and I’ve never let that dream go. In 2017 I began acquiring the equipment (and skill) necessary to do a truly self-produced project, not really knowing how it would all turn out, but believing that it was just what God had put in our hearts to do at this time in our lives. I personally performed all instruments (except the drums) and sang all vocals (no auto harmonies, sampled loops, etc.). I also recorded everything using my own gear in my own home (actually, quite a bit of the album was recorded in hotels while working on the road). The late nights, vacation days, weekends, holidays, etc. that I spent working over 2.5 years on this project really has been a labor of love that has only been possible because of the support of my wife and children. I’m also so thankful for my good friend, Craig Browning, who is an incredible drummer and our meeting up was a total God-thing at just the right time in my life as I was working on putting this album together. Drums are one instrument I just don’t have any real skill at playing and bringing Craig into the project was a key piece of getting this together.
UTR: Have you found any themes or common threads that weave these seven songs together?
Matt: As it relates to individual songs, this album has some songs that I wrote over the last year or so as well as songs that date back to my college years. Although I never really set out to write an album that was designed to address any specific theme, as I look over the final set of songs I do see a strong proclamation of what an incredible, loving Savior we have in Jesus Christ! The title track “If You Need Me” is written as a love song from Christ to us. “Sweep You Away” is written as a calling to believers to remember that the love of God is real and even when we are in our darkest hour, He is faithful. “You Say” speaks of how the incredible God of the universe still actually cares about us and longs to have communion with us. “How Could He” begins by asking the question of “how could He give His life for a sinner like me?” then ends with the answer of “it’s because of His love!” The other two songs, “You’re the One” and “You’ve Always Got Me,” I wrote for my wife – which also shows how the love of Christ in me drives me to love my wife and to lay down my life for her.
UTR: What do you hope the listener to this album will experience?
Matt: There’s an old song we used to sing at church years ago that said “if you can use anything Lord, you can use me.” My prayer is that God will use these songs to speak to the hearts of the listener and that they will be encouraged in their walk with Him! I remember hearing Steven Curtis Chapman say that he thought of his songs as little “sermonettes.” In many ways, I hope that these songs that I have written, and those I will write in the future, will be able to minister to people as though they were “little sermons”. Of course, I hope that people will hear my project and appreciate all the hard work that went into it, but most of all my desire is to see people encouraged by what they hear. If the Lord can speak through a donkey, surely He can speak through me.
UTR: Share a little bit more about yourself. What are some of your favorite things in life, apart from music?
Matt: My wife, Kara and children, Caden and Mia help keep life full of fun and excitement! Nowadays life is pretty full of basketball, volleyball, and projects around the house. Nevertheless, when time is available, I very much enjoy woodworking. Everything from furniture to cabinets and all that is in between has been a lifelong hobby of mine.
Matt Case and his family reside in Louisville, KY. You can find more information about Matt’s music at www.mattcasemusic.com.