Provident Label Group
Release Date: February 17th 2023
Reviewed by: Joshua Andre
Matthew West– My Story Your Glory (Amazon mp3/iTunes)
- My Story Your Glory
- Hard Season
- What A Day
- Wonderful Life
- Greatest Hits (feat. Granger Smith)
- I Need Jesus
- While I Can
- Before You Ask Her
- Me Of All People
- Future Looks Good
- The Last Song
- Praise The Lord (To God Be The Glory)
- Me On Your Mind
- How Good of God
- You Changed My Name
- Jesus Is Better
- Maker (feat. David Leonard)
- I Trust Jesus (feat. Jenn Johnson)
- Miracle Time
- Kingdom Things
- All I Need
Over the past few years, I reckon one of the artists who has inspired me and impacted me immensely, is CCM artist Matthew West. Known for his singles “The Motions”, “More”, “You Are Everything”, “My Own Little World”, “History”, “Only Grace”, “The God Who Stays”, “Forgiveness”, “What If”, “Truth Be Told”, “Hello My Name Is”, “Day One”, “All In” and “Broken Things” to name a few; Matthew has also won and been nominated for Grammy Awards and Dove Awards. He’s also the host of The Matthew West Podcast; and he’s been reminding us all, time and time again over the years, about the power of a story. Since 2010, Matthew has been writing songs about his listeners and the stories they’ve been going through. The result has been a career that has been improving exponentially by the album. I’ve blogged about Matthew here, while Jon has also reviewed Matthew’s 2020 album Brand New. We’ve also voiced our opinions about Matthew’s latest singles “What If” (with Lathan Warlick) and “Truth Be Told” (with Carly Pearce). Matthew has also released his Christmas album We Need Christmas in 2021; while Matthew released brand new singles last year that we’ve reviewed: “Me On Your Mind”, “Wonderful Life”, “Before You Ask Her”, “How Good Of God”, a new rendition of “Me On Your Mind”- this time a collaboration with CCM/country rising star Anne Wilson, as well as “My Story Your Glory”. He was definitely building up to a new album, wasn’t he? And build up to a new album has Matthew indeed! This past week, the double disc 22-track pop/CCM/worship project My Story Your Glory has released to stores and to digital outlets- and as far as albums go, this collection of heartfelt, worshipful, impacting, inspiring and honest songs comprise of one of the most thought-provoking and standout albums of the year thus far. My Story Your Glory the album, is a powerful, comforting, inspiring, and encouraging selection of life-changing and hopeful tracks about our lives being the stories that God uses to draw others closer to Him; and I firmly believe that this album may be Matthew’s best of his entire career!
I’ve always wanted to pave new roads and I’ve always felt limited somewhat creatively when it comes to putting out an album every couple of years that only has like 11 songs on it. I looked around the industry in Christian music and I said, ‘I’ve never seen a Christian artist put out more than the standard number of songs on an album.’ I don’t think I even told the label how many songs I was working on. When I turned it in, I think literally my contract is for 11 [songs] and I handed them 22. I’ve gotten to know Eric [Church] a little bit over the past few years—our wives are good friends—and I was talking to him while he was creating Heart & Soul. I loved how these guys [Eric and Morgan Wallen] wanted to create a statement bigger than chasing a hit single. At this stage of my career, I want to be about that, too.
In Christian music, there is this fine line between two types of songs—songs literally about worshiping God. Then there are songs about life, but through a faith perspective. For most of my creative career, my songs have been in the latter category–writing about grief; but bringing in the hope of heaven. Telling the story of trying to be perfect, but truth be told, we rarely measure up [in ‘Truth Be Told’]. When it came to this album, I was relearning how to worship in my own life, and that impacted making the worship songs here.
I feel like boundaries are dissipating in a really neat way. I’m excited to write more country music that has a faith message. Even artists I work with like Anne Wilson, she’s unapologetically country in her style and unapologetically Christian in her message. I see a lot of country artists saying they want to be bold in their faith. To me, some of the strongest Christian messages—‘Three Wooden Crosses’ [Randy Travis], ‘Something in the Water’ [Carrie Underwood], ‘Live Like You Were Dying’ [Tim McGraw] – these songs point you toward hope.
Delving deep into 22 songs at length… will be probably futile, silly, and objectively a waste of time. Given that I’ve already ‘reviewed’ a number of songs from this album with Matthew’s latest singles here; spending more time about them and the other songs totalling 22 songs, would take about 2 hours and also more length than I’m sure all of you want to read. So let me tell you one thing before I highlight a few songs. This album is rated 5/5, purely because it’s Matthew West, there’s 22 tracks, and not once did the album drag! You may not be a fan of CCM or worship, but this album thoroughly deserves at least one listen. And so… shall we dive deep into at least some of these tracks?
First of all, how about the title track? “My Story Your Glory” harkens back to Matthew writing songs from listeners’ stories (The Story Of Your Life, Into The Light, Live Forever, All In), and delves deep in to the concept of Matthew’s life being richer and fuller because of this journey. With Matthew acknowledging that everything he does is for God’s glory and not for his own material gain, he vibrantly declares that ‘…the story of me was a story of shame, wrong turns written on every page, so many parts that were so messed up, but I love the part where You showed up, rewriting my past, rewriting my hurt, line by line, word by word, and now my story is livin’ proof, there’s not a chapter that you can’t use…’, and delivers probably his most vulnerable song since “Broken Things” from 2017. As we are presented with a comforting and powerful track; this song is a song that is simple yet equally profound in its concept- that Jesus uses our stories and Jesus shows up in our lives in ways we wouldn’t even expect or fathom. Similarly with “How Good Of God”, the track is a declaration of thanks and celebrating the goodness of God, reminding us all that He is worthy of our praise and adoration- and “How Good Of God” highlights just how good God is and just how much He loves us, with Matthew passionately and eloquently reiterating the eternal truth that ‘…my sins have been forgiven and my wrongs have been erased, and I’ve learned what’s so amazing about amazing grace, yeah, this life I live is proof that every prayer I prayed was heard, Lord, ain’t it just like You to give me more than I deserve…’.
“Wonderful Life”, a heart wrenching, vulnerable and emotional piano ballad, is inspired by a story from an everyday person and from someone like you and me (like how Matthew has been writing songs since 2010 based on his listeners’ stories!); “Wonderful Life” highlights just how special and precious this life truly is- with all of its ups and downs. Life may not be kind to us, but this life also shows us that God is holding onto us and is moving in our lives in ways we can’t possibly imagine or comprehend. As Matthew vulnerably and exuberantly reiterates the sobering reality that ‘…it’ll send you flyin’ high, it’ll bring you to your knees, it’s the heartbreak and the happiness and everything between, it’s the laugh until it hurts, it’s the hurt until you cry, can’t have one without the other, it’s how you know that you’re alive, in this broken and beautiful, gone mad and magical, awfully, wonderful life…’; we are glimpsed the ever-true concept. That though this life is complex, this life is still beautiful, and we can see Jesus in every aspect of our lives. Jesus loves us all immensely, and when He died and rose again, it was so that we can live this life with eternity on our mind, and know that despite life’s troubles and hardships, this life isn’t the end, and we can say boldly that it is wonderful with God by our side! Likewise, with “Me On Your Mind”, Matthew delivers a prayer of gratitude, thanking God for having us all on His mind at all times, and are reminded that Jesus loves us all immensely, and when He died and rose again, it was with each one of us on His mind, that ‘…You paid the price, You took the cross, You gave Your life and You did it all with me on Your mind…You’re preparing a place where the sorrow’s erased, and when I stand before You, I’ll find- all along, it was me on Your mind…’.
Story behind “Wonderful Life”: Lately I’ve had a habit of writing songs that make me cry. Maybe I’m getting soft… or maybe these past couple of years have changed me in some good ways. Too often I think we do anything we can to avoid feeling the feelings. Pain, heartbreak, loss… but the story that inspired this song really reminded me that life is all of it. It’s the broken AND the beautiful. It’s the “gone mad” AND the magical. It’s the awfully wonderful life. Life is hard but God is faithful. I don’t want to be numb to the feelings. I want to lean in and feel it all. To make the most of every second. To trust that God is working through it all, and that after this wonderful life is over, I’ll be going home.
The experience [of writing songs about other people’s stories] changed not only how I make my music now, but how I view the world. I don’t see faces in the crowd at my shows, I see stories being written. Each story is unique, and each story can impact the world.
“[So Ron told me] that every morning he asks his hospice nurses to play one of my songs called ‘Strong Enough’. I was so moved by this story that I set up a call with Ron, and we met in the most 2020 sort of way — on Zoom! He spent the entire call encouraging me! Little did Ron know that at that time I was battling some serious discouragement and was pretty depressed about the circumstances around me. But here was a guy able to see past his own battle with ALS to show kindness to me. I’ll never forget that.
These past couple years have brought us tears, heartache, sickness and pain. But Ron taught me about the joy and the peace that you can find in this broken and beautiful, gone mad and magical, awfully wonderful life.
“Before You Ask Her”, a track that released last year Father’s Day (in the U.S.), is inspired by Matthew’s two daughters, with the song speaking of another person in the song wanting to date Matthew’s daughters, and him being the dad, giving this persona some advice before dating is to even occur. A song that highlights the fact that in this day and age, chivalry, respect, and honour are still qualities and attributes that young men need to have and possess; “Before You Ask Her” encourages listeners to take stock, and ask themselves these poignant questions before you ask someone out on a date- ‘…will you hold the door? Be polite? Pick up the tab? And treat her right? Have her home by ten and not a minute after? Will you take it slow when it comes to love? Let a goodnight kiss be far enough and treat her with respect? ‘Cause that’s what’s matters, oh, I guess you got some things to ask yourself before you ask her…’. It’s a song that makes us realise that we as men of God need to take the lead and respect the people we date; and with the song similar in theme to for KING & COUNTRY’s “Priceless”, Matthew has reminded us quite poignantly that we need to act towards women the same way we want to be treated. And just as this track speaks truthfully about the way men should act towards women, so too does Matthew tackle the often-taboo subject of doubting God during the hard seasons (“Hard Season”), while he also admits that we are in desperate need of a Saviour (“I Need Jesus”). With the former being a vulnerable and honest piano ballad where Matthew wonders if there’s a purpose in every hard season, the latter melody highlights Matthew’s pop sensibilities, as this 3 minute CCM track is fit for radio, with Matthew singing out that ‘…I need mercy, I need grace, yeah, I need a second chance every second of the day, I need a Savior who calls me redeemed, there ain’t nothing in this world that my heart needs like I need Jesus…’.
On a double album like this, with a focus on pop/CCM tracks on the first half and worship on the second half, it’s evident in these tracks that Matthew as a singer and as a songwriter is quite accomplished, talented, and determined to succeed, while proclaiming Jesus as His Saviour and as the Saviour of the world. “Praise Be The Lord (To God Be The Glory)”, a reimagining of the Fanny Crosby hymn, is a thoroughly engaging worship melody and a personal highlight, with Matthew eloquently crying out that ‘…oh, praise the Lord, let the earth hear His voice, oh, praise the Lord, let the people rejoice, oh, come to the Father through Jesus His son, and give Him the glory, great things He has done, praise the Lord (Praise the Lord), praise the Lord (Praise the Lord), to God be the glory…’; while equally impressive “You Changed My Name”, a simply yet lyrically effective worship melody, speaks about the moment in each one of our lives where Jesus changed our names. I’ll admit, with all of the talk about Chat GPT, the simplicity of these lyrics makes me dubious about who actually wrote the track, but the impact on my soul cannot be denied- as Matthew sings out the truth that ‘…I don’t have to answer to any name that the enemy tries to call me, I don’t have to answer to any name but Chosen Child of God…’, I cant help but cry out and sing along as well with immense passion. “Me Of All People”, a powerful, acoustic track, speaks about Matthew finding Jesus for the first time, and declaring that ‘…now I belong inside the house that’s underneath the steeple, ’cause You came along and You gave it all for me of all people…’; while the reflective and introspective “While I Can”, with a similar theme of Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Last Day On Earth”, earnestly delves into the concept of focusing on what actually matters in this life- Matthew sings out ‘…what am I waiting for? It ain’t like I’m gonna live forever, I don’t wanna miss it anymore, so from now on it’s now or never, I’m gonna hold on to what matters and let the rest slip through my hands, what I would do is what I will do while I can…’ and encourages each one of us to look in the mirror and actively reassess our priorities in life.
“Maker”, a vibrant, revitalising, refreshing and fresh worship melody, is sung with David Leonard, and will be fit for Sunday morning worship; while “I Trust Jesus”, sung with Jenn Johnson, is co-written with Jason Ingram, and is a track that could possibly be the next “10,000 Reasons”- it’s that good, as Matthew and Jenn outlines that they still trust Jesus ‘…in the storm, in the fight, all my days, all my life, I trust Jesus, always Jesus, come what will, come what may, still my heart will choose to say I trust Jesus…’. The emotional piano led song “The Last Song”, quite possibly the heartbeat of the album, delves into the vibrant and heart-warming notion of Matthew never, ever retiring, and always singing for Jesus until his last breath- that ‘…as long as I am breathing I will lift a melody, it’s just my way of saying, “Thank You, Lord, for loving me”, I could sing a thousand songs about how good to me You’ve been, so I’ll just keep on singing until the last song ends…’; while the Leanna Crawford-written melody “All I Need” has Matthew highlighting the truth that we have all we need in Jesus, and that ‘…if all I have is You, I have all I need, Jesus, nothing else comes close, You can have this world, give me just one thing, if all I have is You, I have all I need…’. Yet for me, the song that probably means the most to Matthew on this album and the song that probably has the most cross-over appeal, is the duet with country singer Granger Smith called “Greatest Hits”.
Story behind “Greatest Hits”: Frank [Spirit Music Group Nashville chief creative officer Frank Rogers] knew Granger. I followed Granger’s story and started listening to his podcast where he is speaking into people’s lives. I had never met him, but I just had a respect for him. When I was thinking about the theme of the song, it was important for me to find another artist who I knew it would resonate with—someone who had kiddos of their own and had a grip on not chasing celebrity. It has a bit of a country lean to it and I thought about pitching it, but part of the freedom of the way people listen to music these days and the freedom of a double album is the boundary is off on your own artistry. There are some songs that sound country singer-songwriter, and that’s part of what I am.
Could Matthew West record a country music album someday? From the above quote, it sure sounds like it! With Matthew and Granger singing about how their families and their wives are the most important things in life to them as opposed to record sales, adoring fans, roaring crowds at concerts, and number one hit singles; this melody is another track, like “While I Can”, that speaks about the transience of life and the need for us all to focus on the things in life that matter. Sure, lots of things bring us happiness and joy. But only Jesus and only our family matter the most at the end of the day.
Several years ago, I brought my management in-house. I was reading Billboard and seeing artists like Beyonce and Taylor Swift kind of foregoing the traditional management model and just surrounding themselves with great people. So, with Story House, I wanted to bring my operation—music, touring, books—under one roof. Then, when the time was right, we would have the systems and vision in place to champion other artists.
I hated to see her [Anne Wilson] without representation during a crucial time. She was opening some shows for me, and we were co-writing, so our Story House team helped her with the album launch while she went and had meetings with other managers. She took three months while our team helped with the album launch, and after taking meetings, she said she wanted Story House Collective to continue managing her. So, at that point, Story House Collective became a growing startup.
People also kind of looked at me sideways because I’m an artist myself and people want to put you in a category. It’s hard to see you as a manager, but I dealt with the same thing years ago when people saw me only as a songwriter. I’ve learned to be comfortable with other people’s discomfort about my career. I just keep my head down and try to do great work.
Though I haven’t spoken about every song on My Story My Glory (I think I didn’t write about maybe 7-8 more songs, like “Kingdom Things”, “Miracle Time” and “What A Day”, to name a few!), Matthew West has proven on this album to still be a force to be reckoned with in CCM and potentially in country music as well. Matthew West remains to be one of today’s most inspiring and relatable artists. And his timeless songs are proof of this impact and influence; while this entire unique album is a timely, powerful, and joyous set of songs to hear about God’s faithfulness in our lives. Well done, Matthew, I can’t wait to hear what God has in store for you next! Are you all a fan of Matthew West yet? No? Well then listen to this ambitious project and the rest of his discography! I guarantee it you’ll be a fan by then!
8 songs to listen to: Hard Season, Wonderful Life, Greatest Hits, I Need Jesus, The Last Song, Praise The Lord (To God Be The Glory), Me On Your Mind, I Trust Jesus
RIYL: Maddie & Tae, Micah Tyler, Sanctus Real, for KING & COUNTRY, Carly Pearce, Lady A, Florida Georgia Line, Sidewalk Prophets