I’ve been dancing since Sunday. Not physical, hip-swinging, arm flailing kind of dancing. The heart-fluttering, non-stop humming, whistling-in-the-halls dancing. All because of a contemporary Christian music album. Five years ago, I would not have believed it. I guess my heart had to be a certain place before it was open to being moved by the message it delivers.
I was fortunate enough to make the trip down to San Marcos on Sunday (with a bus full of teens and chaperons from my parish’s youth group) for the Matt Maher concert (Comm+unity: the Love in Between tour with One Sonic Society and Sons & Daughters). I bought Matt’s new album “The Love in Between” before the show, before its wide release yesterday. I was even fortunate enough to be one of a bunch of lucky people to be in the right place at the right time and get it signed. 🙂 I’ve been listening to it ever since.
Would the album be as good if I hadn’t already heard most of it live? Probably!
Like we’ve come to expect with Matt, his music is rich and fulfilling (much like our Catholic faith)! There’s twelve songs on the album, and you’re probably already familiar with track 2, “Turn Around” which has been on CCM airwaves since last month. The rest of the album follows that upbeat, vibrant quality.
Right from the beginning, the first track “Rise Up” is literally jumping with its eighth-note rhythm chorus (up-down, up-down). It’s full of biblical imagery: on the vine, the blind can see, lambs roar like lions, prisoners break their chains, the poor find treasure. Even familiar hymn phrases like “Mine eyes have seen the glory…” evoke old emotions set to new music.
What stood out to me most about “The Love in Between” is the absolutely brilliant lyricism. I’m a huge fan of wit, and making a good rhyme or play on words has a certain amount of wittiness to it that makes me smile. (For example, I’m often laughing at Eminem’s raps.)
I was born on a rock in the middle of the ocean,
where the wind’s so rough it could carry you to London.
It’s a new found land with and old soul reaching
for the light of day.
“Woke Up in America”
(Matt is originally from St. John’s in Newfoundland, CA. See, I told you it was witty!)
On top of that, being Christian adds a second, deeper layer to so many of the images in his music. I was pleasantly surprised with the arching theme of reconciliation and forgiveness:
“If you’re lost and need to be found
If you’re looking for a Savior
All your gotta do is turn around”
“Heaven, help me now… I believe You can help me now”
“Please come and rescue me”
“How can you go home again if you’re not sure you’ve ever been?”
“I’ve got nothing left to hide. I’m walking around in a new state of mind.”
“She forgives you before you say you’re sorry. This is a mystery.”
“Every Little Prison (Deliver Me)” is a song that list many sins like vanity, greed, distrust, pride, and gossip (the little prisons) and begs God for forgiveness (“Deliver me, deliver me”).
Another observable pattern was use of grammatical gender. Every female pronoun points to the bride of Christ: His Church. Track twelve, “The Spirit and the Bride” is not only the zenith of that imagery, but goes a step further and is inviting:
Let everyone who hears these words say come // For the Spirit and the Bride say come.
Overall, the imagery and theology make this album so wonderfully thick that now, sometimes, other CCM comes off as fluffy. “The Love in Between” has whet my appetite not only for music, but for theology – not something that everyone can pull off. I think the reason is because, even though full of praises of God’s love, that’s not the sole message on this album. It calls you to action.
“You don’t have to take the broken road
All you gotta do is turn around”
“I give you everything”
“Everybody’s quoting the bible like it could be truth or lies
And I’m standing the corner with the saints and the sinners
Trying to quote Your love with my life”
It is my prayer that this album is successful in ministering to God’s people.
Breaking all the cages wide open.
The Love in Between
1. Rise Up
2. Turn Around
3. Heaven Help Me
4. Every Little Prison (Deliver Me)
5. Woke Up in America
6. Heaven and Earth
7. Write Your Love on My Heart
8. On My Way
9. New State of Mind
10. My Only Love
11. Everything and Nothing
12. The Spirit and the Bride