Matthew West File:
Reviewed by Eric Wilson
The Story of Your Life by Matthew West
"Matthew West doesn't necessarily break any new musical ground in the genre, but he writes wonderful, catchy lyrics, and puts such honesty and passion into them that they become transcendent."
I'm not a big fan of contemporary Christian music. Aside from its often bland pop aspects, it tends to whitewash the issues we all deal with--yes, even believers in Jesus. Here, in his latest album, Matthew West doesn't necessarily break any new musical ground in the genre, but he writes wonderful, catchy lyrics, and puts such honesty and passion into them that they become transcendent. He doesn't try to make his music something it's not; instead, he turns the spotlight on the listeners, penning songs that represent "The Story of Your Life."
After asking for people to send in their stories, West locked himself away in a cabin for two months and let these songs flow from those letters he had received from around the world. In the CD liner notes, he chronicles the individual stories that impacted each song, and this adds so much to the experience of this album. From the college-age girl whose plans were ripped away by a car accident ("Strong Enough") and the family who adopted a child from Guatemala ("One Less"), from the pain of generational sins, abortion, and divorce ("Family Tree," "The Healing Has Begun," "Two Houses") to the devastation of cancer and sexual abuse ("Survivors," "Broken Girl"), West rips our hearts out, allows us to deal with these things so often hidden away in darkness, and then asks God to come in and show us "The Reason for the World." He's even joined by Leigh Nash on "To Me," and her whimsical voice fits perfectly. Yes, put on the headphones, close your eyes in a quiet place, and let this song list go to work.
A few months ago, my brother, brother-in-law, and I heard Matthew West perform some of these songs for a small gathering. His care for the Lord and for those whom these songs represents was clear. All three of us turned to each other after the concert and said, "That's one album I have to get."
Well, I got it. I love it. Easily one of my favorites of the last year or two.
Eric Wilson is the author of twelve novels that explore Earth's tension between heaven and hell, the latest of which is One Step Away, a twist on the story of Job. He lives in Nashville with his wife and two daughters. Visit him online at his website.