Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Music Review: All In by Matthew West

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Many great new songs
Cons: A couple that I don’t quite connect with
The Bottom Line:
More encouragement
New music from Matthew West
Sure to please his fans

Go All In on Matthew West’s Newest CD

Over his last three releases, Matthew West has released songs inspired by stories and e-mails he’s gotten from fans.  Now that this trio is over, he is returning to writing some songs based on his own life.  All In still provides lots of songs with encouragement as well as the more personal songs.

The disc starts out with the title track.  It actually reminds me of Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Dive” as Matthew sings about going “All In” in living for God.  It’s a fun upbeat anthem to start things off.

We get a couple of tracks of encouragement next as Matthew reminds us that God uses “Broken Things.”  From there he sings that “Mercy is a Song.”  Both songs are great since they focus on the fact that God’s mercy and grace are what makes us valuable to Him.  It’s a reminder I need more often.  Plus they are both fun, mid-tempo tracks.

But for pure fun, it’s hard to top “Amen.”  I’m sure I’m getting strange looks at stop lights while listening to this song, but I don’t care.  You can’t listen to this song and not move.  Seriously.  We are still talking about the grace of God here, and between the lyrics and the upbeat music, you will be smiling, I guarantee it.

Several songs on this disc are taken directly from Matthew’s personal life, and “The Sound of a Life Changing” is one of them.  This song talks about the call on his life he heard at a Steven Curtis Chapman concert and how he hopes his music is now changing lives in the same way.  It really is a great song to remind us that you never know how God is using you.

Unfortunately, some of the songs don’t work as well as they could.  In many cases, I want to like them, but they just don’t work for me.  One of these is “Jesus & You,” a tribute to his wife.  It’s probably because I’m single, but it just doesn’t connect with me.  I do connect a bit more with “Becoming Me,” a tribute to moms, but it’s still not the strongest song on the disc.  His daughter Lulu sings near the end of the song, and she’s got a great voice.  It’s the real highlight of the song.  (And no, this isn’t the only time his kids appear on the disc.)

I really truly had to look at the lyrics to “Power Love Sound Mind.”  I love the idea behind it, taken from the scripture that say God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear but of “Power Love Sound Mind.”  He speaks/sings the verses and the chorus is a hard rock driving song that fits the reminder.  At first, it felt like the chorus was making light of the problems talked about in the first verse.  Don’t get me wrong, God will help you to overcome PTSD and anxiety and grief.  It just feels a bit like “if you have enough faith, you’ll get well” without trying to show God’s power and love in these situations.  However, looking at the second verse, which talks about the choice of trusting God despite our circumstances helps put it in perspective for me.  Then there’s the bridge, “The power that conquered death/Is now alive in me.”  That also puts it in perspective.  Of course, that fact that this was the theme of my pastor’s sermon this week, also helped put it in perspective.

I was fully on board with “Dream Again” early on.  It’s a typical Matthew West encouragement track that reminds us God isn’t through with our story just because bad things have happened in the past.  Then we got to the bridge, which is Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord.  Plans to prosper you and not to harm you.”  As comforting as those words are, they are usually taken completely out of context, and that’s what Matthew West has done here.  However, the rest of the song?  Absolutely amazing!  And the fact that he quiets it down for the final lines of the song is absolutely perfect.  I do like the rest of the song except for the bridge.

He does close things out on a strong note.  “You Are Know” reminds us that, even when we feel like we are being overlooked, God still knows and loves us.

Stylistically, this fits well with Matthew’s other releases.  It’s got the up tempo pop/rock vibe that his fans, including me, love.

There are 14 tracks here, so a couple of missteps don’t take away from the disc overall.  I always enjoy Matthew’s releases, and All In is no exception.

CD Length: 51:56
1. All In
2. Broken Things
3. Mercy is a Song
4. Amen
5. The Sound of a Life Changing
6. Something Greater
7. Jesus & You
8. The Beautiful Things We Miss
9. 1 Song
10. Power Love Sound Mind
11. Never Ever Give UP
12. Dream Again
13. Becoming Me
14. You Are Known

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