Monday, October 25, 2010

Matthew West: The Story of Your Life Review!



Matthew West is back with his fourth Sparrow Records project, The Story of Your Life. Based on thousands of stories from across the United States and the World, Matthew offers both songs full of hope and encouragement, as well as other tear-jerking tracks.

The album begins with the title track, actually based on a story itself. “The Story of Your Life” offers hope to anyone, encouraging them that their story is worth telling the world, and that this is only the beginning of your life. It kicks off Matthew’s latest album well with a high-energy contemporary track and beautiful piano. “My Own Little World” follows as Matthew’s first single from The Story of Your Life. A general song inspired by the thousands of stories Matthew received and his reaction to them, it tells the story of life when “my own little world is population me.” I enjoyed the beginning string sound, and upbeat track, and I believe that this single will eventually find itself to be a chart-breaker.

“Strong Enough” is a reminder that when everything falls apart, God will never give us more than we can go through. But even then, it sometimes seems like that is too much. Matthew remedies this situation with the reminder that “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength/ and I don’t have to be strong enough.” I really enjoyed the upbeat tempo, especially because I was expecting this album to be mostly mellow. “Family Tree” follows, being a bit on the slower side of things. “Family Tree” was written as a reminder that we do not have to carry “what they’ve handed down/ No, this is not your legacy/ this is not your destiny.” It is an encouragement to change the things of our family tree that we are not proud of, and tells us that we do not have to carry the generational baggage.

“To Me,” featuring guest background vocals from Leigh Nash, has a bit of a country feel to it, as it reaches into the heart of students. Actually written from the perspective of parents to their children, it offers these encouraging lyrics: “To me you are Heaven’s finest invention by far/ so much brighter than the brightest star/ and what I’d give to make you see who you are to me.” “One Less” has the same sound as “Friend in the World” from Matthew’s latest album Something to Say, as it tells the story of a girl adopted by parents who couldn’t have children. (“And now there’s one less/ one less/ one less broken heart in the world tonight/ yeah, there’s one less/ one less/ there’s one less broken heart in the world tonight.”)

“Two Houses” is a mostly acoustic track, telling the story of a girl dealing with her parent’s divorce, and living in between “two houses.” But rather than just dealing with the struggles, Matthew points out that God is the answer, and He is our home. “Survivors” follows as an anthem to cancer survivors and patients. Featuring a steady, strong beat, Matthew encourages these people to continue on: “Nothing can stop you now/ nothing can back you down/ you never give up, never give in/ You’re a survivor!” I particularly enjoyed the “whoa’s” that appeared at the beginning of every verse. Matthew also throws in Romans 8:37 as a reminder to those that have lost someone due to cancer, which I found to be a great addition to the track.

Probably one of the most touching songs on The Story of Your Life was “Broken Girl,” written to girls who have been sexually abused. In fact, Matthew shared that one in four stories he received were from women in this condition! Because of my stand against human trafficking, I found this track to be very inspiring; it seemed to really show Matthew’s heart: “This is a song for the broken girl/ the one pushed aside by the cold, cold world/ you are/ hear me when I say/ you’re not the worthless they made you feel/ there is a love they can never steal away/ and you don’t have to stay the broken girl!” The slightly haunting music, especially at the beginning of the track, made this track both very moving and enjoyable.

“The Reason For The World” is a tear-jerking song written to a family that lost their 18-year-old boy Ryan in a tragic car accident. Ryan’s mom wrote: “our family is incomplete until we are together again.” Matthew wrote “The Reason For The World” to remind Ryan’s family that maybe the reason for the world is to make us long for home. Mostly slower with a deep-string sound, I definitely consider this an emotional track of the record. Finally, the album ends with “The Healing Has Begun,” written to women dealing with the deep emotions of aborting their babies. Mostly piano and bass guitar based, it reminds them: “There’s a world full of people dying from broken hearts/ holding on to their guilt, thinking they fell too far/ so don’t be afraid to show ‘em your beautiful scars/ ‘cause they’re the proof, yeah, you’re the proof/ oooooh, the healing has begun.” It was also backed up by a choir, making it yet another moving track.

When I first heard Matthew West’s latest CD The Story of Your Life, I expected it to be tear-jerking, and mostly acoustic. I was both right and wrong. Firstly, I was surprised that most songs were actually quite upbeat and full lyrically and musically. Secondly, several songs on the album were quite emotionally-driving, but each one delivered a message of hope to the writer(s) whose story the song is written to. Each track showed off Matthew’s unique writing abilities and good heart. I very much enjoyed listening to this album from Matthew, as it was an excellent endeavor!

Rating: 4.5/5

Track listing:

1. The Story of Your Life
2. My Own Little World
3. Strong Enough
4. Family Tree
5. To Me
6. One Less
7. Two Houses
8. Survivors
9. Broken Girl
10. The Reason For The World
11. The Healing Has Begun

You can read the full stories behind the songs on Matthew’s latest record at http://www.matthewwest.com/!

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