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An Album With Layers
Posted October 05, 2010
By SarahFine_NRT, Staff Reviewer

Matthew West’s last album, 2008’s ‘Something To Say’ is proof how talented of a songwriter he is. Never one to shy away from clever word play or in-your-face topics, people have a way of connecting to his songs unlike any other artist out there, that being made clear by previous hits such as ’The Motions’ and ‘More’. When Matthew announced in early 2010 he’d be working on a new project, listeners were somewhat intrigued by the idea behind it: he wanted fans to write in and share their story, and out of the entries received, he would take the ones that spoke to him the loudest and turn them into a song. When word of the project caught on over internet and radio, it took off unlike anything people had expected. Over the course of several months, Matthew received over 10,000 entries of people writing in sharing their stories… good, bad and ugly. The end result? A biography- like album entitled ‘The Story Of Your Life’.

I’ll be honest from the get-go, this one isn’t for the faint of heart. While Matthew is known for his upbeat style of acoustic pop, this album, lyrically, has an edge, while, musically, it shies away from the upbeat sound Matthew has come to develop, most of it being pretty raw and organic, but it fit’s the idea of the album very well and it highlights Matthew’s songwriting ability. The album starts off with the title track and leads right into the first single, ‘My Own Little World, which in a way, is the theme of the album --stepping out of your comfort zone to understand what others are going through.

It’s amazing to hear how each song covers such a broad range of topics, from ‘Family Tree’ (about a girl coming from a dysfunctional family) to ‘One Less’ (about a couple adopting a little girl from Guatemala) and how in the end, each song offers such hope to the listener and the truth of peace when they turn to God. ‘Broken Girl’ might be the standout track on the album, it is by far one of my favorite songs Matthew has done to date. It talks about a girl who has gone through sexual abuse and how she feels she is unworthy, the song going on to tell her “your not as worthless as they made you feel, there is a love they can never steal away, you don’t have to stay the broken girl”. This is one I know many girls could relate to and I do hope to see it as a single in the future.

‘Two Houses’ is written from the POV of a child of divorce, while ‘Survivors’ covers the many stories he received about people dealing with some sort of cancer or sickness. ‘To Me’, featuring guest vocalist Leigh Nash from Sixpence None The Richer, is my favorite track on the album, dealing with the story of a boy being bullied in school and how there is someone out there who really does love him for who he is. It’s one that many kids and parents are going to relate to right away. The closing track ‘Healing Has Begun’, in a way, ties together all the stories of brokenness and pain and fashions them into a song that tells the listener that there is hope on the other side.

This album has so many layers, it’s hard to cover them all. It is going to touch those who have gone through similar struggles and triumphs, and effect the way believers treat others around them. In a way, the whole album is a challenge to step across the line and share the love of Jesus, even when it’s hard. I know many of the songs have challenged me on a personal level, and I pray they’d do the same for you as well.

This is going to be a standout album in Matthew’s carrier, as well as a standout album in the history of CCM. Nothing like it has been made before, although I can see many artists taking this approach to their music in the future… and for good reason. ‘The Story Of Your Life’ is a solid album with powerful music and an even powerful message. You won’t want to miss this one.

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