Live Forever came together by West digging deeper into more than 40,000 stories shared with him from people all over the world - stories that six years and three albums later have had a profound ripple effect - beginning with 2010's The Story of Your Life then followed by Into the Light in 2012. While preparing for the new album, West's greater goal was to create songs full of joy and life, not just life on earth - but life that is to come.
"It was important this time around to say that there is joy in this life," West shares. "With so much defeat all around us, people need to know there is victory. Maybe my job in reading a lot of these desperate stories is to extract the hope, to say 'God is a God of hope.' This was a very decisive album, in that way."
West also wanted to acknowledge that no one has a perfect story. "We could spend the rest of our lives on the past, or we could look ahead, trusting God to write the best parts of our story starting now," he explains. "I've always had this desire to connect to the hearts of people through the songs that I write. But the past six years have kind of ruined me for ordinary. It's at such a deeper level now because nothing is more meaningful than sitting down to write songs from these stories. And it's freed me up. I'm just not interested in songs for hits sake. As long as people write to me, I'll keep writing their songs, pointing people to the greater story."
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Long Live The Storytellers| Posted April 16, 2015
Songwriters are, by definition, storytellers. With every lyric, they strive to tell their story in a way that helps others know that they're not alone in their own stories. In the last few years, Matthew West has taken that job to a whole new level.
After posting a simple request for fans to send in their stories, Matthew was overwhelmed by thousands of letters and stories pouring in. Those letters inspired the songs that became West's 2010 release, The Story Of Your Life. The album was quickly welcomed into the CCM world as a breath of fresh air, bringing a raw honesty and deeply personal feeling that's all too rare in music today.
But the letters kept flooding in, sparking a second album of story-turned-songs, Into The Light. After several hit singles from that 2012 release and yes, even more stories, the songwriting journey continues with what I believe to be West's greatest effort thus far: Live Forever.
The title track opens with the challenge "86,400 seconds / make 'em count / make 'em matter / make it now / live forever," fittingly preceding "Day One," the lead single immediately met with listener support and positive feedback upon release.
Lyrics from "The List" feed from the 1 Corinthians 13 promises of the ability of love to forgive faults, much like "Grace Wins" mightily conveys Biblical truths on the power of God's grace and redemption in our lives. Upbeat "Tryin'" sends a much-needed message of self-confidence into the world, proclaiming that we are enough just as we are.
West's catchy hooks and signature pop sound are unmistakable throughout the full album, but shine especially bright on a few of my favorite tracks: "World Changers," "Mended" and "Born For This." Lyrically stronger than ever before, which isn't an easy task for such an accomplished songwriter, lines like this one from "World Changers" make Live Forever the incredible gem that it is: "you're a hero unsung / but the world knows a hero when they see one / this is to all the world changers / keep walking on."
"Mended" boasts similarly stellar lyrics: "When you see nothing but damaged goods, I see something good in the making / I'm not finished yet / when you see wounded, I see mended."
With deeply personal words straight from one of the letters Matthew received, "Anything Is Possible" proves itself to also be a standout track, telling a beautiful story of grief and restoration. Slowing down a bit, "Oh Me Of Little Faith" and "Heaven Is The Hope" bring the standard version of the album to a close.
If I were you though, I'd splurge on the deluxe. The acoustic take on "Day One" alone is enough reason to buy the extra three songs, adding a different feel to something we already loved. For the final two tracks, you'll need some tissues. "Homecoming" tells the heartbreaking story of a young girl whose life ended all too soon, while "Untold" pleads the case of a child whose life hasn't yet begun.
Matthew West has done it again, and this time even better than before. Each song captivated my attention and drew me in at first listen, making Live Forever an album to be kept on constant repeat. I thought eventually I would find a song that I didn't absolutely love, but to my great joy that moment never came. I'd be hard-pressed to point out any flaws in this album. As someone who has followed Matthew's music since the beginning, I have to say that Live Forever is definitely his best work yet. Matthew completely shattered my expectations for this release.
On top of being a genuinely phenomenal project from start to finish both lyrically and musically, the fact that every song came from real-life stories inspired by people all around the world makes it even more special. Our stories are powerful and deserve to be told, and Matthew has made it his mission to help tell some of those stories in such a remarkable way: with music. No matter what the future holds, this season of his career will forever be notable. There's no doubt that Matthew West is a great songwriter, and with these last three albums, he's empowered so many to tell their own stories to the world. These songs, as well as the stories behind them, will indeed Live Forever.
Song To Download Now:
"Day One" (Get it on iTunes here.)