Matt Maher – The Stories I Tell Myself

Provident Label Group / Essential Records

Release Date: October 21st 2022

Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre

Matt Maher The Stories I Tell Myself (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. The Lord’s Prayer (It’s Yours)
  2. Bigger Table
  3. In the Room (feat. Chris Brown)
  4. Leaning (feat. Lizzie Morgan)
  5. Burning Heart of God
  6. The Stories I Tell Myself
  7. Better Off Broken (feat. Ryan Ellis)
  8. The Answer is Yes
  9. The Way You Love Me
  10. In the Room (Live) (feat. Ben Fuller & Ellie Holcomb)
  11. Burning Heart of God (Live) (feat. Nate Moore)
  12. Leaning (Live) (feat. Lizzie Morgan)
  13. Common Ground (Live) (feat. Dee Wilson)
  14. Inheritance (Live)
  15. The Time is Now
  16. One Heart At a Time
  17. My Old Friend ( Drew Holcomb)
  18. Wedding Ring
  19. I Wanna Feel Again (feat. Taylor Leonhardt)
  20. Only Good Will Grow (feat. Brian Elmquist)

Matt Maher’s been at it for quite some time. Since releasing his chart-topping single ‘Your Grace Is Enough’ from his debut album Empty & Beautiful which also spawned the singles ‘On The Third Day’, ‘For Your Glory’ and the title track; Matt has unveiled chart-topping albums ever since: Alive Again (2009), The Love In Between (2011), All the People Said Amen (2013), Saints & Sinners (2015), Echoes (2017), The Advent of Christmas (2018) and Alive & Breathing (2020) all followed, and now here we stand in 2023, to see Matt be one of the most honest, earnest, prolific, compelling, enthusiastic and passionate worship leaders of the modern generation. Songs like ‘Hold Us Together’, ‘Christ is Risen’, ‘Lord I Need You’, ‘All the People Said Amen’, ‘Because He Lives (Amen)’, ‘Run to the Father’, ‘Alive & Breathing’, ‘What a Friend’ and ‘Your Love Defends Me’ are just some of the many tracks over the years, that Matt has created that has struck a chord with myself. Now in August 2023, we see yet another offering of Matt’s…and while this album ‘review’ isn’t as timely as I would’ve liked, I nevertheless am still writing my own thoughts on the album The Stories I Tell Myself, Matt’s latest album that released in October 2022.

This is not your ‘typical’ review. The ‘let’s go through the album track by track’. Because frankly, for me to undertake such a way of reviewing an album, especially when said album is more than 10 months old, seems a little redundant. Because it is. By now, every Matt Maher fan would’ve listened to all these twenty tracks, while I myself have heard through the standouts- ‘Leaning’, ‘The Lord’s Prayer (It’s Yours)’, ‘Bigger Table’, ‘In the Room’, the title track, ‘The Time is Now’, ‘My Old Friend’ and ‘Only Good Will Grow’, to name a few. So what are my thoughts on this album as a whole (I’m only going to do a ‘holistic’ review, if any!)? Well, to start off…20 tracks is way too long, even for a Matt Maher album. He’s the type of artist that doesn’t really have a ‘wow’ standout album (maybe Echoes comes real close), just standout songs throughout each of his records- and The Stories I Tell Myself is the same as well. Chart-topping song ‘The Lord’s Prayer’ is a great re-working of the Lord’s Prayer, and Matt’s newly recorded duet featuring UNITED singer-songwriter TAYA, is a welcomed addition to an already great song. ‘Bigger Table’ encourages us all to extend the invitation to be part of God’s family, to more people than we can ever comprehend, as we share the gospel and contexualise it to the modern person in the 21st century- this rousing declaratory anthem can potentially become a radio single in the future. ‘Burning Heart of God’ encourages us all to chase after the burning heart of God, allowing Him to come consume us so that His fire refines us and makes us more resilient and more like Him; whilst ‘In the Room’ features Elevation Worship lead singer Chris Brown, as the song shows us all a sense of longing, that when we declare these words, we utter in agreeeance, that ‘…I just wanna be in the room, wanna be in the room when You move and I’m not leavin’, not leavin’ ’til You do, I just wanna be in the room, wanna be in the room when You move, and I’m not leavin’, not leavin’ ’til You do…’ ‘The Stories I Tell Myself’, the title track, is a hauntingly personal track by Matt, reflecting about his own life and reconciling his own relationship with his father, comparing that fractured relationship to that of the relationships that Biblical characters had with God (or even Jesus’s own relationship with the Father); while ‘The Time is Now’ and ‘One Heart at a Time’ both create a sense of intentionality, urgency, passion and hope, as Matt encourages us to be proactive in loving each other and sharing Christ’s love and the gospel to each other, doing so, knowing that ‘the time is now’, and that lives can be changed ‘one  heart at a time’. ‘Only Good Will Grow’, the 20th track on the album, is an encouragement, that only good comes out of what is planted firmly into the ground, that only good comes from the ground where it’s solid and firmly grounded on truth and reality; while  Matt’s first single from The Stories I Tell Myself, ‘Leaning’, is indeed one of my own personal favourites, as the song brings us great nostalgia, with references to ‘Leaning on the Everlasting Arms’, and a timely reminder for us to lean and press into God, especially during difficult times such as these, with all the happenings in the world at the moment.

So there you have it…my short-ish succinct ‘review’ of Matt Maher’s The Stories I Tell Myself. I still think 20 tracks is indeed waaaay too long for any artist (CCM or mainstream or anyone else), nor do I think that 10 tracks on the physical version of the same album (I purchased the physical album last year thinking it was 20 tracks, and then lo and behold, I received a ten-track version of the album!) works either…maybe 15 songs is just enough? Nevertheless, Matt’s album is enjoyable, heartfelt, and honest, and even though there’s literally no review of the album online (until mine!), I’ve since been able to appreciate Matt’s message, with this album as a whole, ranking second to Echoes as The Stories I Tell Myself becomes my 2nd favourite Matt Maher album ever. Well done Matt for these powerful songs of encouragement. Looking forward to seeing what the Lord does with this album, in the upcoming weeks and months.

5 songs to listen to: The Lord’s Prayer (It’s Yours), Leaning, Burning Heart of God, The Stories I Tell Myself, Bigger Table

Score: 5/5

RIYL: Phil Wickham, Paul Baloche, Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, Tim Hughes

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