Full Circle Music
Release Date: January 25th 2019
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Could’ve Been
- He Always Wins
- Like Arrows
‘…some people assume that being a writer or performer is a gift that springs from some well of super self-confidence. Quite the contrary in my experience. For me it has come from the desperate longing to find someone else out there who feels like me. And I’ve found there are a lot of us who feel anxious, alone and out of place in a world that’s becoming more and more crowded. No matter how old I get, the insecurities and anxieties that plagued me as a child never stop trying to rip off my joy. They are persistent agents of discouragement who whisper to me that I’m worthless. I find myself especially vulnerable when I’m looking for worth and validation apart from my creator, God…’ Former founding member of what I reckon is one of the most underlooked and even underappreciated bands of the modern CCM era, Sanctus Real; Matt Hammitt departed from the band in 2015, after Matt’s last single with the band, ‘Longer Than a Lifetime’. Since that time, Sanctus Real went on to employ worship leader Dustin Lolli as lead singer, releasing an EP This is Love in 2016 (spawning the hit ‘This is Love’) alongside their first full length album with Dustin at the helm, Changed that released in 2018. The band, while it isn’t the same without Matt, nevertheless has given us the hope and chance that a band can still be of influence, even after a personnel change. As for Matt and what he has undertaken post-Sanctus Real, we have been blessed to see Matt release a podcast series not too long ago (under the title ‘The Lead Me Lifecast’), and then in 2017, Matt decided to unveil arguably one of the most under-the-radar releases of that particular year- his self titled debut album (I guess his quasi-debut album with Bethany Dillon years ago, when they sung reimagined hymns, doesn’t really count). Out of this self titled album came songs that have impacted and encouraged, from lead single ‘Tears’ and the current radio single ‘Could’ve Been’, to the promotional single ‘He Always Wins’ and a re-recording of Sanctus Real’s hit, ‘Lead Me’, a song that I reckon will be the most famous, for both Sanctus Real and Matt Hammitt, when music careers are done!
Now fast-forward to the beginning of 2019, and we see Matt unveil yet another music offering, this time nothing new, just acoustic recordings of fan favourites over the years. Standing at a very short 3 tracks long; Matt nevertheless delivers what I reckon are some of the most heartfelt and emotive songs I’ve heard of the 2017/18 period. Though Matt right now isn’t really as publicised as he has been when he was attached with Sanctus Real, his songs nevertheless have still been impactful. ‘Could’ve Been’ speaks about what could’ve been for us humans if we had continued to travel down a path that may not have been what the Lord indended for us to venture on. A song that brings to the fore the issue of life, and travelling roads, and relating it to how we as Christians make decisions about where we want to go in life, as we compare them to what we believe God wants us to undertake; ‘Could’ve Been’ is a song of thankfulness, as Matt declares that ‘…I was waiting on a spiritual wind, waiting for someone to say when, almost wasted my whole life for what could’ve been, should’ve been, would’ve been, I knew I was made for more to live every day like a new beginning, and I thank God now, that dead end is what could’ve been, You saved me from what could’ve been…’
‘He Always Wins’, though not as ‘radio single’ as ‘Could’ve Been’, is still a song that encourages and inspires, as Matt imparts to us a hymn-like refrain in how God always wins the battles that are in our way, fighting for us even when we can’t see His hand in our daily undertakings. ‘Like Arrows’ is the last remaining song by Matt on this acoustic EP, the song itself taken from the song ‘Like Arrows’, originally not on his self titled album but rather, a song recorded especially for the movie of the same name, about a family who, after difficulties and trials, decide to place faith and prayer at the centre of the family unit and see how the Lord leads a family from the front, like how arrows always find their target, so too does God lead a family to what He wants them to go. A song that can possibly be on Matt’s new full length album (whenever that may be), ‘Like Arrows’ is a reminder for all of us of how much prayer is needed at the centre of any familial unit for life to continue moving in a direction where there is peace and unity amongst everyone.
As each of these songs were recorded and sung acoustically on this EP, I found that these renditions for me were as much inspired and emotive, maybe even more so, than the originals. And yet others may enjoy the original recordings more…and that’s ok. Whatever version we resonate with, we ought to be reminded, that Matt isn’t finished with music yet, and if his new album is as good as his last, then we are sure to see some of Matt’s songs within my list for Best Songs of 2019 come year end. Well done Matt for these acoustic renditions, looking forward to a new studio album, whenever that may be!
RIYL: Sanctus Real, Stars Go Dim, Hawk Nelson, Matthew West