Carolyn Arends has been writing songs for a long time—professionally, for the better part of two decades. Always known for her insightful, intelligent lyrics, it's no surprise that Arends is also adept in other forms of writing—like her critically acclaimed book Wrestling With Angels (Harvest House/Conversant Life), her award-winning column in Christianity Today, and a bunch of well-written film reviews for CT (including last week's review of Where the Wild Things Are). It all adds up to what Arends sees as her role as a communicator, as she puts it, "about essential and ultimate things. … I'm just happy to be working with words and ideas and meaning." It's been a while since she last worked her lyrical magic on a new album—three and a half years, in fact. But it was worth the wait: The stellar Love Was Here First, Arends' 10th album, releases today. We talked to her about the album, the long delay between records, the somewhat "divinely inspired" songwriting process, and more.

This is the longest you've gone between records, almost 3½ years since Pollyanna's Attic. Why so long?

Carolyn Arends: The first two years after Pollyanna's Attic were filled vocationally with lots of creative endeavors—some touring, an increasing amount of speaking and freelance (non-musical) writing, chipping away slowly at a (still in-process) master's degree in Theology, teaching music at a local Bible school, and a few other projects. And of course my roles as wife and mom [she and husband Mark have two children]. By the summer of 2008, I realized that two years had already gone by since my last release, and I got that creative itch to get going on a new recording. I did the basic tracks for a whole batch of ...

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