Alan Guño returns with his 6th release – and his first album of sacred-themed music!
“Unconditional” is a celebration of the sacred and hopeful. In its 13 songs, Alan has again shown his talent for writing inspiring pop music – and now infuses that style with the joy and beauty that characterize faith.
“Many fans have told me that they had felt that songs on my previous albums had religious or sacred themes,” explains Alan. “And while these songs were not necessarily written with those specific perspectives, I do believe that as a religious person, the imagery and lyrics reflect who I am personally. But now with ‘Unconditional,’ I have had the chance to create a whole album that actually writes from a sacred and faith-based perspective.”
That imagery is immediately apparent in the songs as well as the cover art for the album. “I think it was wonderfully symbolic to shoot the album photos near the ocean,” explains Alan. “Water is one of the most powerful and beautiful of the sacred symbols – representing love, renewal, and redemption. It is no surprise that – like in my previous albums – water takes a special place in this album.” Indeed, from the redemptive waters celebrated in the song “Forgiven” to the storms in “He Will Find You There” – and through the constant falling rains and tears in “Little Man” – Alan continues to write with the sacred imagery of water being very prominent in his lyrics.
But Alan believes there is even more in these songs to explore. “The world is filled with many sacred perspectives,” says Alan. “And while as a Christian and person of faith, I write from a particular perpective, I do hope that many of the songs speak to the diversity of what is sacred. And at the same time, there is much that we have in common – faith, hope, and unconditional love.”
And that unconditional love was what eventually named Alan’s new album. However, it came about in a rather disturbing way. “I began production on this album a few years ago,” he remembers. “However, after Proposition 8 passed in California – denying marriage equality to couples in the state – I was devastated at the discrimination and prejudice that had reared its head. But I was equally disturbed that religion and faith had been used to bring about this terrible happening. In the name of religion, the fundamental tenet of unconditional love had completely been shoved aside – in order to treat one set of people unfairly from others.”
“I had to stop production on the album,” he continues. “I didn’t want to represent the religion and faith that had just been used to discriminate against the LGBT community – against me… How could I celebrate the joy of faith – when it had been weaponized to fuel bigotry?
“I thought about it for a long time – and decided that rather than not release the album, I would need to make sure the message of the album was very clear. I knew I needed to go back in the studio and record further – and that’s when ‘Unconditional’ was genuinely born and found its true sacred focus.”
Alan returned to the recording studio and recorded two more songs. The title song, “Unconditional” is a sad but motivating anthem – asking all people to question how a faith based on unconditional love can treat one set of people with discrimination – in other words, without unconditional love. And “Love Says ‘I Do’” is a wedding song – dedicated by Alan to the 18,000 couples who were married in California in 2008 before Proposition 8 came to the ballot box. “These special people who were married in 2008 in California – and certainly all the LGBT couples around the world,” explains Alan, “are wonderful living examples of what we hope for – and what we – especially people of religious faith – should all be working toward. Equality means equality for all – It means unconditional love for all. And sacred people of faith will understand that our religious perspectives encourage us to pursue that equality with all our efforts – not in spite of our religion, but because of it.”
“As a gay man,” continues Alan, “It has been very easy to see the hurt that the LGBT community feels because of what is being done in the name of faith. But the truth of the matter is that unconditional love is the foundation of these faiths. Therefore, there are no exceptions to that. Love all. Love all equally.”
But the stories in the “Unconditional” album do not end there. A few surprises wait in store for those who have noticed Alan’s talent for crossing into other genres. “Yes, our country fans were not forgotten!” explains Alan. “There are two country songs on the album! ‘Little Man’ is the story of a little boy who plays football and his prayers and dreams to be a football player. It’s about the power of prayer and faith… And ‘Beagle in Bethlehem’ is a song that I describe as a ‘Christmas Fantasy’- as it asks the question, ‘What if Jesus had a dog?’”
And those who are fans of Alan’s inspiring ballads will also not be left wanting. “Forgiven” and “Salvation” open the album exploring the joy of coming out of our darkness and finding redemption. “He Will Find You There” speaks to the comfort of faith and hope – and “Trust the Voice” is an anthem that sings confidently of where we can find God.
“I am so happy to bring this album to my fans,” says Alan. “I hope it is a source of hope and inspiration - and a reminder of what is so truly beautiful and foundational in our faith, in our humanity, and in ourselves: Love. Unconditional love. For all. And for all equally.”