Alive Again captures the penetrating spirit and charisma Matt Maher’s worship songs have become known for in a live setting. This compelling, 12-track journey he hopes will lead people “back to their own hearts” and “prompt listeners to stop and ask some tough questions about who they are and where they are letting God maneuver in their hearts. And in doing that, experience the heart of the passion, death and resurrection.”
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:)| Posted May 18, 2010
What would make Matt Maher release his second album only a year and a half after the
first?" That's the question that eventually came to my mind when I heard about Alive
Again. Maybe it's a marketing decision; maybe it's because some of the songs from
Empty and Beautiful were recorded first by other artists. Or maybe he just couldn't wait
to share what God has given him. I'm not complaining, mind you; I loved his debut. And
I suspect it's all three.
Whyever, Alive Again is a great album. Some songs promote the quiet introspective,
others a joyous celebration of praise. The title single is a vivid expression of a moment of
clarity, describing a moment where God reaches out to us and overpowers anything in
His way to get His message across. Inspired by an almost-sunrise Maher saw and
drawing from Colossians, the message evoked is this; He leads.
"Hold Us Together" reminds us that love, while it won't necessarily give us what we
think are/should be our heart's desires, it will do far more than that. Love will "Make us a
shelter/To weather the storm". That's pretty powerful stuff. Not only does love give us a
place to ride out the storms, we become new bricks in the walls of love's embrace
ourselves, extending what we received to others. I liked the beat of this one. The
clapping hands really added to the feeling of community this song intends to convey.
"Remembrance", co-written by another Matt (Redman) is a song about communion. It's
a topic which isn't explored in depth by a lot of other songs (Third Day's "Communion"
was the only other one I could think of). It's basically a response to Jesus wanting to be
that close to us. Maher says that they "thought it would be great to write a worship song
that teaches people about the spiritual nature of communion, without diving into
theological differences." The chorus's transition between the stages of remembering to
worshipping to having communion really flows well.
"Letting Go" is probably the only musical low point on this album. I can't quite put my
finger on it, but Maher sounds kind of flat or something. It's a nice song lyrically,
although some people may find it a bit too cliche for their liking. ("I stand in awe of
You/And everything You’ve done for me/You speak Your words into my life/And where
You are is where I want to be")
"You Were On the Cross" asks God where He was during trials and pain. The answer in
the song is clear; the defeat of these things was foreordained and in our lifetime had
already occurred. Therefore, we are no longer slaves to sin and death. Furthermore,
every terrible, awful, horrible feeling we can imagine has already been experienced by
Christ, so He knows.
In "Garden" Maher expresses the idea that God wants to "take the human heart and make
it a garden - like it was in the beginning." He wants to cultivate all that is beautiful, rich,
rare and Godly in us. If we were indeed made in His image, He no more wants to turn us
in the opposite direction than a gardener wants to plant, nourish and breed weeds.
I would further the final metaphor by saying that this entire album is a well-tended
garden; the songs are crafted with rational thought and spiritual insight. Beauty is
encouraged and ingrained for many purposes, not excluding the simple enjoyment of its
loveliness itself for its own merits. Alive Again has no actual weeds; it is the senses and
condition of the listener that alone determine the resonance each song will have.