[INTERVIEW] Nichole Nordeman, 'I do feel like this is the next version of me musically'

The lyrics of Nichole Nordeman’s The Unmaking have been 10 years in the making for the Dove award-winning artist. After the release of her 2005 album Brave, the Oklahoma native took a step back from her career to focus on her family.

“I didn’t have a lot of balance,” Nordeman says. “I was struggling a lot to be the artist that I wanted to be and the mom that I wanted to be, and kind of failing at both, from my definition.”

The following decade resulted in a complete upheaval for the singer/songwriter, largely due to the end of her 10-year marriage. In her upcoming extended play (EP), Nordeman chronicles her journey of brokenness, sharing how the Lord has rebuilt her through this testing period.

“I tend to, at all cost, just maintain this illusion that things are fine, when they’re clearly not fine,” Nordeman shares with Vital. “What I felt like God was saying to me in giving me the lyrics to this song was that, ‘Don’t rush through the process of The Unmaking and the brokenness and this thing that’s been crumbling for a long time. It’s going to come down. I’m going to sit with you in the rubble when it does, and I’m going to hold you and love you.'”

By addressing the process of the unmaking in her own life, Nordeman hopes to unlock people from the shame of feeling lost and hopeless.

“He still loves you and hasn’t gone anywhere, despite all evidence to the contrary. God is still very much in it with us, and I think that’s what I would love for people to take away from any of the songs.”

“Christians are so anxious to fast-forward to the healing and to the hope and the happy ending of the story where God makes all things new,” she says. “All of that is true sometimes, but we just are so uncomfortable sitting in the tough spot. I think that’s what I wanted to do with The Unmaking, just acknowledge that God is with us, and there is no shame, in fact there’s strength, in sitting in the rubble and being vulnerable with Him.”

As a songwriter, Nordeman is accustomed to speaking encouragement into others, but as she crafted her latest project, she found that the tables turned: “I was no longer the poet and the songwriter who was speaking hope and life into other people. It was like, I need hope and life spoken into this brokenness for me, now.”

Despite the risk that comes with sharing such personal content through her music, Nordeman says it is integral to her identity as an artist: “To not be honest would feel really fraudulent, I think, when I have sort of built a life of music around honestly.”

Featuring six tracks, her new EP is admittedly “pretty diverse.” Aside from the raw honesty found in The Unmaking, Nordeman also delves into a worship style as she co-writes with Tiffany Arbuckle (Plumb) and later sings a soft ballad to her children in “Slow Down.”

“I want to maintain my identity … that I have that’s unique,” Nordeman says of her development as a musician. “At the same time, I always feel like there has been evolution and change and the next generation of what that sound is … I guess it remains to be seen how other people feel, but I do feel like this is the next version of me, musically.”

Stepping back into the cycle of recording and touring does have its challenges after such a prolonged period out of the spotlight. “It’s all so different since even when I stepped out of it a couple years ago,” Nordeman says. “Some of that’s just been getting back on the bike and learning how to pedal.”

Despite this, Nordeman sees that there are some aspects of the industry that will always remain the same: “What will never change is the desire for people to really connect with good music and good writing and songs, that say something that really are in our walk with God.”

Even as she returns with new music, Nordeman is still mindful that family is her priority, and says this balancing act is a reflection of many working mothers. “I think it’s a dance, always, to find balance, to remember what matters, to let go of all the small stuff,” she says.

“The biggest part of that for me, is just to have self-compassion when I fail at it. There are some days … when I think, ‘OK, that was not balanced. That was totally out of balance,’ and then not to beat myself up, but just to wake up with new mercies in the morning and say, ‘Let’s try this again. Let’s get back on track.'”

This EP signals a new season for Nordeman. A recollection of the brokenness and beauty in her own life, she delivers a courageous and compassionate recording that dares us to recognize the process of unmaking in our own lives.

“I would love for anyone who has walked a path, even remotely similar to mine, to feel just a crack in the curtains where some light got in, and to feel even in the smallest way, that God is present,” Nordeman says.

“He still loves you and hasn’t gone anywhere, despite all evidence to the contrary. God is still very much in it with us, and I think that’s what I would love for people to take away from any of the songs.”

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The Unmaking is out now. Visit NicholeNordeman.com for more information.