Sounds like … acoustic-styled pop similar to Shawn Colvin, Carolyn Arends or Amy Grant's Behind the Eyes era
At a glance … while her voice is certainly a highlight, it's the way Ali Matthews weaves in the spiritual with the everyday in her songwriting that makes Window of Light so rewarding
Have you ever found yourself able to accurately predict what the next line of a song will be even if you haven't heard it before? Of course, there are only a certain number of chords and rhymes schemes to go around, so it's bound to happen from time to time. But it's amazing how familiar lyrics have become—especially on Christian radio. Is it that songwriters have run out of things to talk about? Or rather, do they often rely on conventional words and phrases to get the message across?
My guess is the latter, but that's really a moot point when discussing Canadian singer/songwriter Ali Matthews' fifth album, Window of Light. What's so striking about her work is that songwriting doesn't follow the expected course. Instead, she infuses her personal journey into these songs, which makes their spirituality all the more vibrant.
For "The Weapon and the Wound," Matthews says the song was intended "for anyone who knows about obsessions, addictions, or bad choices—even if it's just an insatiable passion for chocolate." It's small insights like that that add so much richness to lyrics like "Tragedy and paradise/Lie within inches from my soul/Even if they take away my very breath/I could never let you go."
On "Give It Away," a poignant commentary on modern life, the "self-proclaimed packrat" offers a sentiment that everyone has faced at one time or another: "Look at this heart/A locked-up collection/A box full of questions and memories and dreams/All bottled inside/Like secrets we're hiding/Without even trying to know what it means."
In addition to having a way with words, her voice, which is subdued and folksy like Shawn Colvin or latter-day Amy Grant, perfectly complements these personal sentiments, whether it's on the ethereal sounds of "When the Silence Falls" or the piano-driven "You Knew My Name."
But even more important to Matthews than making music that's pleasing to the ear is that she's being blatantly honest in what she's communicating. "I desire to write songs that connect us with each other—songs that tap into our hopes and heartaches, our fears and passions, the things that make us vulnerable, the things that tell us we are alive," she says. "I see a dark and broken world in desperate need of mercy and compassion. And I am compelled to create music that will draw us closer to grace, to each other, and to our Creator. I am not a preacher—just a fellow traveler on this fascinating ride."
For more information about Matthews, check out www.alimatthews.com.
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