Matthew West [The Story Of Your Life] | Posted September 28, 2010 Staff Reviewer
For his new record, The Story Of Your Life, Matthew West did something unusual: He turned the microphone around. Rather than write about what he was experiencing in his life, he asked his fans to submit the stories of their lives. When he opened up this opportunity to his fans, the message spread quickly – and soon almost 10,000 stories were submitted. Radio stations, media outlets, and retailers caught the vision and helped spread the word of this unique album. What emerged on The Story of Your Life is a powerful collection of songs that cover a diverse range of difficult subject matter.
The stories gave Matthew a window into what his fans had experienced in their lives. And they covered a wide range of human experiences and emotions. “My Own Little World” perhaps serves as a capstone to the entire album, describing a person who lived in their own “little world” and then was awakened to the bigger picture of need and God’s work in the world. Following the great trend already established by Matthew West of completely transparent and vulnerable lyrics, "My Own Little World" addresses the truth of personal selfishness that most believers are too proud to admit. I applaud Matthew for once again convicting me that my faith is not just for me and God, but needs to be expressed in outward appreciation for what God has done for me. “Strong Enough” is the most vertical worship song and my overall favorite song on the album. It includes a great bridge “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength, and I don’t have to be strong enough.” The song is based on Philippians 4:13 and is an uplifting, catchy and encouraging song.
Another of the album’s strongest tunes is “To Me,” which West wrote in response to a letter from a mother whose heart was aching over the way other kids cruelly treated her son in middle school. “So I wrote this song from the perspective of that parent,” West explains, “and it says, ‘they don’t know you like I know you and if they did I know they’d see. . .you are heaven’s finest invention by far, so even brighter than the brightest star, what I’d give to make you see who you are to me.’” Another powerful song about parenthood is “One Less,” a song about adoption that West cites as one of his favorites on the album. “There are a lot of stories that inspired this song, but there was one specific one from a family in Tennessee that went about trying to adopt this little girl from Guatemala,” he relates. “It’s an amazing story of redemption, both for the child and for the parents.”“Family Tree” deals with a dysfunctional family and a girl whose dying homosexual father talked about the family legacy. The girl who submitted the story felt God speaking to her saying “You have My legacy because you are My child.” It is a poignant and moving song and has a great affirming chorus from God’s perspective: “No, this is not your legacy, this is not your meant to be, I can break the chains that bind you.”
From "More" to "You Are Everything" and "The Motions," I continue to hear a progression musically and lyrically from Matthew West. The Story of Your Life is yet another solid album from one of Christian music’s most prolific singer-songwriters. Certainly "My Own Little World," “To Me,” “Strong Enough” and “One Less” will all get heavy radio airplay and deserve recognition. Those songs all have very strong messages and are all catchy and uplifting.