Thursday, July 21, 2011

William Matthews: Hope's Anthem Review

From Bethel Church in Redding, California, comes Hope’s Anthem, the debut project of worship leader William Matthews. And although his name may not be familiar to most, Matthews has already shown himself to be a Spirit-led worship leader, through his accomplishments so far – including leading Bethel Live’s Be Lifted High album, as well as singing background vocals for well-known worship leaders including Jeremy Riddle, Jake Hamilton, plus Chris Quilala and Kim Walker from Jesus Culture. But Hope’s Anthem is not your typical worship project. It seems that Matthews has stepped out of the box of what many hold worship to be, to deliver a project loudly declaring God’s faithfulness, while mixing up many genres, including country, pop, RandB, soul, and more!

“I’m Free” begins Hope’s Anthem on a fun country note, while the serious lyrics speak of the freedom we find in Christ. “I Just Want You More” is a powerful worship song, crying out for more of Jesus. Listening to the track progress to a strong praise and worship track made this song very enjoyable, as it also seemed to accentuate Matthew’s flexible vocals.

“We Believe,” composed of strong drums, speaks of trusting God’s promises and expecting them to come true: “We believe that Your love will never end/ and Your mercy covers sin/ Every promise that You give, God, we believe!” “This One Thing” was very similar to Casting Crowns’ music, speaking of how our heart beats for this one thing – that is for more of Jesus, and to experience His glory.

At first I wondered if “So Good to Me” could be inspired by Francesca Battistelli, as it sounded remarkably similar to her “You Never Are” track. Inspired by the Psalms and Isaiah, it speaks of God’s goodness toward us, and definitely borrows lyrics directly from these two books. Having a blue/country twist, “My Great Reward” is equally as uplifting, as the highlight proved to be the bridge: “Never seen a lover who is quite like You/ there’s no other, no other/ every single moment that I’m with You is like no other.”

The strong title track follows, speaking of how Jesus is our hope: “You’re bringing hope to the hopeless/ giving Your heart to the broken/ sharing Your home with the orphan/ You are the joy, You are my Joy!” As its name implies, “The Lord is My Shepherd” is Psalm 23 put to contemporary music. Honestly, it wasn’t my favorite rendition of this beloved song, but it certainly wasn’t bad either. I enjoyed the lead guitar solo near the ending of the track.

William Matthews covers “Deep Cries Out,” Bethel Live’s own track about the river of life flowing up into everlasting life (John 4:14). This was the third rendition of this track I have heard, and honestly, I think this is the best I have heard so far. The overpowering drums, William Matthew’s awesome vocals, and the strength of the track made for an excellent listen. “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” contains more of a blues twist to it, speaking of singing out our praises to God.

William Matthew’s Hope’s Anthem is not your typical worship project. Mixing up many styles of music together collectively, and speaking of the goodness of God, Hope’s Anthem makes for an unpredictable listen and an encouraging project to sing along to and worship God.

Rating: 3.5/5
Release date: July 26, 2012

Track listing:
1. I’m Free
2. I Just Want You More
3. We Believe
4. This One Thing
5. So Good to Me
6. My Great Reward
7. Hope’s Anthem
8. The Lord is My Shepherd
9. Deep Cries Out
10. Bridge Over Troubled Waters

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