By award-winning contemporary Catholic singer/songwriter Matt Maher
Balances edgy and delicate, corporate and introspective
The album balances edgy and delicate, corporate and introspective. It's an appropriate context considering the paradoxes Matt presents here. Besides the beauty of "emptiness," he invites us to see and embrace the hidden gifts in life's challenges: "this thorn in my side is a grace," he sings in the title track.
Mesmerizing title track features lushly orchestrated strings
That mesmerizing song opens with a sobering confession: "In this prison there's a fight between who I am and who I used to be." Backed by solo piano and lushly orchestrated strings, Matt sings of the solution: let Jesus "fight the fight in me," and die to self: "A libation, I'm pouring out, empty and beautiful."
A rock ballad of epic proportions
At six minutes long, "Unwavering" is a rock ballad of epic proportions. Based on the Beatitudes, it opens by affirming God's unwavering voice, hand, heart, will and plan. Eventually its gentle tone and leisurely pace give way to a muscular, electric wall of sound. The song closes with this prayer: "send us out to be your hands and feet."
Builds to an amazing intensity then ends with a hush
Echoing the album's central theme, "Lay It Down" speaks of the total — not partial — surrender Christ calls us to. Over the opening acoustic guitar, Matt sings, "Everything I am, everything I long to be, I lay it down at your feet." The song builds to an amazing intensity then ends with a hush.
Hard-driving songs in praise of God's "absurdly" generous love
"Like a Fool" is a kinetic song of praise for God's "absurdly" generous, unconditional love. Humorous and homey, it gives us permission — and encouragement — to be "fools" for Christ. "Shine Like the Son" is a hard-driving track about reflecting Christ to the world and spreading — not hoarding — the grace he's given.
Opens with an ultra-polished new version of "Your Grace Is Enough"
The opening track is a slick, ultra-polished new version of "Your Grace Is Enough," Matt's smash hit from Welcome to Life. This pop gem gained a life of its own when Chris Tomlin covered it on his 2004 album Arriving.
"Our emptiness," Matt says, "is a window to joy"
"The realization of our own emptiness without God," Matt explains, "is both a moment of sadness and a window to joy …. To lay down one's life for the Gospel in service of God and neighbor is a reflection of the beauty of God. That is our charge as Christians, and that is where these songs came from."
A forceful sound perfected through three previous albums
Snug within this album's forceful sound — perfected through three previous albums and years of touring — is a Christian message deserving an imprimatur. Matt's theology — as always — is rock solid. Empty of all pretense, his fourth release is beautiful, absolutely beautiful.