Provident Label Group
Release Date: March 5th 2021
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- Truth Be Told (feat. Carly Pearce)
Matthew West, dare I say it, is perhaps the closest there is to a modern-day version of Steven Curtis Chapman. That’s my opinion- others may disagree, and that’s fine. But for me, ever since Matthew has undertaken what I reckon is one of the most selfless acts in CCM- writing music not based on your own experience but based upon others- fans to be exact; I’ve had much more admiration and respect for what he’s doing, something that I reckon the CCM community of music should decide to invest in moving forward- writing songs, not just on the experiences of the writer (that can happen too), but rather, place their own feelings and what they could think, in someone else’s head for a moment, and write from their point of view. For if that were to happen, there’d me much more humility, and less rash judgements- and where I see the most judgements from is yes, the CCM community. So for Matthew to write not for himself but for others is refreshing to see. He’s built most of his career- 2010 onward, on this structure, and as he’s entering his new season on Provident Label Group, Matthew unveiled to the world his latest collection of songs in an album bundle called Brand New, released digitally in February 2020. As Matthew continued to deliver poignant songs and melodies- presenting them in a way that humanises the stories sung through song, we see a plethora of them impacting millions of people around the world with standout songs over the last few years being that of ‘All In’, ‘Broken Things’, ‘Day One’, ‘Mended’, ‘Grace Wins’, and recently as of last year, ‘The God Who Stays’. Now a veteran and mainstay in CCM, Matthew’s at it again- after his surprise single ‘Take Heart’ that was unveiled to us under the strict guidelines of social distancing and quarantining protocols because of the horrific COVID-19 pandemic, and the EP titled Live Before the World Shut Down (EP) (an album recorded in an acoustic manner throughout a variety of shows prior to live shows being shut down in America (and around the world) from March 2020 onward because of COVID-19), Matthew’s back again with another standout song- ‘Truth Be Told’. While the original recording of it was on Brand New, this is a duet version, featuring both Matthew and up-and-comer in the country industry, Carly Pearce.
Let me start by saying that ‘Truth Be Told’ has been one of my favourite songs over the last year or so. What this melody (both in duet form and in standard Matthew-only recording) has accomplished is to dig deep within the human soul and remind us all of our incredible need to be honest with each other, even if it means for us to hurt a little. ‘Truth Be Told’ is a sobering account, asking the reason why we say that we’re ‘fine’ to everyone we meet, even if we’re not. In Matthew’s own words in a post on Instagram, we see that ‘…this song is an honest attempt by me to be, well, honest. Authenticity is easier said than lived. I think deep down we all like the idea of showing who we really are, warts and all, to the world. But allowing others to see the rough-around-our-edges, is a scary thing. What will people think? How will they judge me when they know I’m anything but perfect? The crazy thing is, the truth is already told when it comes to God. Scripture says nothing in our lives is hidden from Him. For someone who hasn’t discovered the freedom of grace, the thought of a God knowing about the worst parts of your life can really freak you out. But to understand that there is a God that sees every secret sin, every struggle, every thought, every mistake, and loves you still- that is a freedom like no other…’ The song is a reminder for myself to be as authentic and honest in how I live my life, as I can, because in being vulnerable and allowing the truth to come to the surface, it is in turn allowing us to dare to believe that there’s a God big enough, strong enough, and loving enough, to welcome us towards Himself regardless of whatever we confess about ourselves we so desperately want to hide; and that there’s people around us willing to just listen and love us without condition or expectation, as Jesus loves humanity, full stop. It is in this understanding of how ‘Truth Be Told’ has challenged people’s lives, that I welcome another version of this already-impactful track. To have Carly on this song is to bring with it, a whole new level- fans of Carly’s music within the country sphere, or even fans of country music in general, may check this song out, and then in turn, be inspired to check out more of Matthew’s songs…maybe. And this widening the net of people who are exposed to different types of music is a good thing, indeed.
‘…I’m honored to have Carly join me on this new version of ‘Truth Be Told’. Since her first single, ‘Every Little Thing,’ I’ve been a huge fan. There’s an honesty in her voice that convinces you she’s not just singing, she’s feeling every word she’s singing. It was a special thing to hear that same honest vocal delivery brought to this song about being honest. I’m so excited for the world to hear this duet…’ [Matthew West] ‘…My faith is such a huge part of my life. I’ve been praying for the right opportunity to show more of my heart, and ‘Truth Be Told’ felt meant to be. Not only am I such a fan of Matthew’s, this lyric has been the anthem of my life over the last year. Being transparent and vulnerable is how we connect with others. I’m so excited to be a part of this collaboration! …’ [Carly Pearce]
Matthew’s discography is a wide one, and with many songs that have climbed up the radio charts over the years, his presence in CCM shouldn’t be ignored or even bypassed in favour of other ‘more famous’ CCM artists, like TobyMac, Chris Tomlin, Francesca Battistelli, Newsboys, and the like. Yes, Matthew doesn’t have that much traction or even a following as opposed that all these other aforementioned artists, and that’s ok. His discography speaks for itself. And his new 2020 album Brand New, alongside his standalone single ‘Take Heart’, as well as this new acoustic live EP, and his duet with Carly Pearce, are steady and firm reminders of a constant worker in an industry that often overlooks the artist that grinds tirelessly, like Matthew, in favour of someone flamboyant and impactful from the get-go, but after an impressive debut, may not be in the spotlight anymore, for whatever reason- artists like Everfound and About a Mile come to mind, who had impressive debuts, but nothing much else. Nevertheless, Matthew’s influence in an industry that is seemingly tired is indeed there; and his songs on Brand New, ‘Truth Be Told’ especially, are some of the most hard-hitting songs I’ve heard in a while. This is a powerful song, just as impactful one year removed from the album release of Brand New, as it was whence Matthew’s full-length album was released in 2020. And with the addition of Carly’s powerful vocals…what’s not to like? A song certain to be loved, if you enjoy similar-sounding artists like Tauren Wells, Rascal Flatts, or the ever-reliable and recently disbanding band, Tenth Avenue North, Carly’s addition makes me enjoy this version of the track, all the more. Kudos to Matthew and Carly for such a vulnerable song, one that still continues to encourage us all, especially during all that 2020 and 2021 has brought us!
RIYL: Martina McBride, The Chicks, Faith Hill, Rascal Flatts, Tauren Wells, Tenth Avenue North