Reviewed by Susan Lloyd
Great God Who Saves by
"Soothing, sweet, and exuding a delicate fragrance, this collection of Ms. Story's latest offers listeners a way to find rest in the Lord without completely lulling them to sleep."
For a girl who usually likes to listen to more edgy alt-rock, I found hearing Laura Story’s Great God Who Saves to be the musical equivalent of taking a long warm bath at the end of a very frantic day. Soothing, sweet, and exuding a delicate fragrance, this collection of Ms. Story’s latest offers listeners a way to find rest in the Lord without completely lulling them to sleep.
The first three songs of the set are full of organic, acoustic sounds featuring a sweet mandolin and warm acoustic guitar. The songs are set with an uplifting tempo that allows the instrumentation to be present enough to get your toes tapping, but delicate enough to support Ms. Story’s voice without overpowering it. Ms. Story’s voice is also sitting very nicely in the middle of her range throughout these first three songs, so the vocals are clean and bright. The most impressive song of the first three is CD opener “Bless the Lord”, a rousing reminder of our need to trust God in all our circumstances.
Ms. Story lets a more country vibe shine on the song “Great God Who Saves”. Combining a stronger hint of twang in her already downhome voice with the addition of a steel guitar to the instrumental mix adds just the right amount of country flavor to the song to help it cross that line from lite pop to pop-country. It all works, however, and there is nothing pretentious about this particular track. The lyrics are straightforward, and my favorite line is: I would have despair if I did not believe that You would come to me” emphasizing the theme of comfort and rest we can have in God as we lean on Him more and more.
The two most recognizable songs on the CD, Ms. Story’s own “Indescribable” and the gorgeous “Grace” penned by members of the now defunct Siler’s Bald are given beautiful treatment. While hearing “Indescribable” sung by Ms. Story is a treat, her rendition of “Grace” is possibly one of the most sensitive interpretations I’ve ever heard. Her phrasing is spot on, and her voice is just vulnerable enough to convey the real emotion of the song.
“Grace” also shares the spotlight with “There is Nothing” as both are such prayerful and intimate songs. They’re treated with arrangements that are reflective of the vertical nature of the songs. These tracks are stellar moments in the collection that happen without fanfare. Fanfare isn’t needed because the impact in both songs comes from the warmth and honesty of the lyrics and the musical backing. “There is nothing” is possibly my favorite track in the collection because of the complete honesty of the lyrics, the musical arrangement, and the authenticity of Ms. Story’s voice.
The musical and spiritual companion to the prayers voiced in “Grace” and “There is Nothing” is found in the contemplative, stripped down and achingly tender song “Perfect Peace” that closes out the CD. Anyone in need of soul soothing can listen to this song and be transported towards a restful place in their hearts where God is waiting to extend peace in whatever storm one may be encountering.
The set is rounded out by two more uptempo pieces that again employ the use of acoustic instrumentation. When organic, natural instruments are used, it’s almost impossible to put any edge to the songs themselves and in this case “Make Something Beautiful” and “Think of You” need no raw edges in order to be expressive. The songs are well rounded, warm and poignant mainly because they, like all the other tracks in this CD, resound with direct lyrics and honest instrumentation.
There is nothing unpredictable or mind bending on this album, but that doesn’t stop it from having high impact. The songs, for the most part, are formulaic (verse, chorus, verse, bridge, chorus) and that formula fits Ms. Story’s vocal style just fine. The strength of the CD is the balance between vocals and instrumentation that is incredibly consistent throughout. And although I’m not necessarily an Adult Contemporary kind of girl, I realize that everyone can benefit from a moment to get away from it all and allow beautiful music like this to carry us to the arms of the Father for the rest all so desperately need.
Susan Lloyd is a professional photographer in Charleston, South Carolina who specializes in shooting concerts. She holds a degree in Music Education and has worked as a worship leader and as a youth minister. She is passionate about all types of music and enjoys encouraging and supporting bands who seek to glorify God. She also loves movies, animals, traveling, and making new friends. She and her husband have three kids and have been married for nearly 17 years. More info about Susan's photography can be found at www.susanlloydphotography.com or www.susieq3c.wordpress.com