“I have travelled this road/I have wrestled these fears/I have carried this load/And cried a sea full of tears/Though I may rise, though I may fall/You are my hope, You are my all/Forever this be my song and my story/To God be all of the glory.”
With those touching words, and equally touching keyboard backing, Ali Matthews opens her latest CD: So Shall We Love: Songs of Worship and Faith.
Musically So Shall We Love is a slight departure from Matthews’ previous works, relying more on a ballad style. That’s not to say every song is sombre or slow. An experienced songwriter, Matthews knows how to vary the tempo and timbre of the songs and her ability to match words and music shows a songwriter at the peak of their craft.
Ali Matthews’ ability to match words and music shows a songwriter at the peak of their craft.
On the intro page of the CD’s crowdfunding campaign, Matthews wrote: “My life journey has led me to the top of mountain peaks and the bottom of deepest valleys. Throughout every experience, the glue that kept me together was the ever-constant, faithful presence of God. His grace has blown my heart wide open.” The lyrics of So Shall We Love are a testimony to this:
“I am not my fear/I am not my failure/You tell me that I am a child of grace/Forgiven and loved…” (“Story”)
“Here in the stillness/My heart is at rest/Alone in the silence/That’s where I hear You best/In the rush of the river/Like a song in the breeze/It’s here in the stillness/You speak to me…” (“In the Stillness”)
The two songs which really stand out for me are “We Remember,” which I predict will soon be a standard song used before, during or following communion in many churches, and “I Saw Jesus,” which recounts Matthews’ emotions and experiences during a trip to Ecuador with World Vision.
Matthews also gives her own take on a few traditional songs: “It Is Well” (paired with “No Curse of Life”), “Abide” (which begins with the scratchy, vinyl album sound for the first verse of “Abide With Me”) and “Come Thou Fount.”
In the past, Matthews’ has relied on the strength of her songwriting and simple musical arrangements with a modicum of backing musicians. So Shall We Love producer Andrew Horrocks brings a rich, lush sound to the song arrangements which often feature a host of exceptional musicians, strings and background vocalists. A treat for listeners are the guest musicians Matthews includes: Tim Neufeld (Starfield and Tim Neufeld and the Glory Boys), Jacob Moon, Kevin Pauls, Joel Auge, Dan Macaulay, Matthew Grieve and her daughter, Jo Matthews (on “Love Like You” which they co-wrote).
So Shall We Love is the second CD I’ve heard this year that comes from a musician’s experience of a brokenness which finds solace in God’s grace. Whether this is a trend or not, singer/songwriters seem more willing to plumb the depths of their own spirituality and listeners seem ready to hear about it. No matter where you are on your journey So Shall We Love: Songs of Worship and Faith will be a CD you’ll want to have accompany you the rest of the way.
To listen to the latest Arts Connection interview with Ali Matthews, where she talks about her new CD, go to http://tinyurl.com/habxcju
For more about Ali Matthews and the So Shall We Love CD, go to http://alimatthews.com/