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Cory Asbury on Sophomore Album ‘To Love a Fool’: ‘My Goal Is to Put Real Life Into Music Form’

The set, released July 31, follows 2018’s “Reckless Love.”

Cory Asbury’s second album, To Love a Fool, released July 31, is following the pattern set with his 2018 Top Christian Albums chart topper, Reckless Love.

Both sets launched with a lead-off single. Reckless Love‘s title-track led the multi-metric Hot Christian Songs chart for 18 weeks, and Christian Airplay for 13 frames, and Asbury finished 2018 as Billboard’s top male Christian artist.

Continuing his run, the first single from To Love a Fool, “The Father’s House,” ruled Christian Airplay for three weeks in June.

Asbury, who resides in Kalamazoo, Mich., with his wife, Anna and their four children, has also been part of the worship collective Bethel Music since 2015. Additionally, he leads worship regularly at Radiant church in Saginaw.

The new album, which was pushed back multiple times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, was produced by Paul Marbury in Nashville, with all tracks written by Asbury, solely or with others. Asbury talked to Billboard from his home about the new project.

This certainly sounds like a cohesive album where every song flows to the next. Was that the mission?

For sure, I’m pretty old-school and still buy records, so, to be honest, I love the whole concept of the album. Really, the infatuation with singles sort of irks me [laughs], but I definitely went in with the goal of making a complete album. When I’m listening, I want to sit with it and take it all in. I wanted to create that experience for my fans. I also wanted to create a real record with real instruments and less synth. The Christian world can be kind of boxy and we wanted to break that mold.

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With the pandemic still raging, how are you marketing the album launch?

We’re doing a rooftop show in Saginaw on Aug. 20 that we’ll also stream live for anyone who wants to see it.

Will there be an in-person audience?

Yes, but only about 70 people so it can be managed and everyone can socially distance safely.

How important is radio and what is your connection to programmers?

It’s very important and has been huge in my development as an artist. We toured the entire country visiting stations and programmers when we released the single “Reckless Love.” I feel like I have a strong connection with radio. Plus, from data that I’ve I seen, radio listeners still buy music.

Your faith is front and center in your lyrics and you’re certainly not dancing around anything. Would you ever want your songs to cross over to pop radio?

I look at it like the possibility of a huge evangelistic tool: the more people that your music reaches, the more people that might actually be saved because of it. My goal is to put real life into music form to show the highs and lows and the crap we deal with on an everyday basis. If a song can crossover and reach more people and encourage them, then I am all for it.

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Have you picked a second single to follow “The Father’s House?”

It’ll be “Sparrows.” I think it’s a song that’s easy to digest and receive and a message that’s needed right now: that God takes care of us even when the world is broken and freaking upside down like it is now. The third will be “Dear God,” which I feel is different in that it’s not your everyday uppity and poppy Christian single.

“Reckless Love” was the only single off the first album. Was there any hesitation to follow it because it was so successful?

I think because “Reckless” was around so long, we didn’t want to step on it. It just kind of kept going and going.

How challenging was it to record the new album during a pandemic?

Paul did an amazing job, considering the challenges. He had to just farm out the tracks to every player, like the guitarist recording literally 100 tracks, and Paul put it all together.

You wrote or co-wrote every track on the album. How long did that take?

I basically took off all of 2019 for a sabbatical. I shut down my social media and other distractions and just concentrated on writing. I have a loft-space studio in downtown Kalamazoo that’s a place of solitude. It’s a great place to write.

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What’s your favorite track on the album?

“Unraveling,” which is one of the tracks we used strings on. We had to bring them into the studio one or two at a time. It was quite a challenge.

Is there anything in particular that you’re listening to right now that stands out?

Taylor Swift‘s new album [folklore]. I literally listened to the whole project five times from start to finish. I love that it’s more organic-sounding. It’s her best work in years, in my opinion.

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