Sunday, February 12, 2012

The Love in Between - Matt Maher


If you can relate to struggle, this CD will resonate.

The Love in Between
Artist: Matt Maher (www.mattmahermusic.com)
Label: Essential
Length: 12 tracks/47.6 minutes

Matt Maher’s The Love in Between is a pleasant surprise. Coming after Alive Again (2009) I was expecting more modern worship than pop rock. Maher may be best known for “Your Grace is Enough,” but on this release he shows empathy for the fight of faith.

In Between feels different than its predecessor. The emotion is raw and the sound edgier. Credit in part goes to producer Paul Moak, who I first encountered on Derek Webb’s How to Kill and be Killed DVD. His guitar prowess was a highlight. His influence gives this a rock sound that complements the gritty lyrics.

Moak and Maher share a number of co-writes, and Maher also writes with Chris Tomlin, Jason Ingram, Mia Fieldes, Leeland Mooring and Robbie Seay. Most of these are well-known in the worship community, but this is not modern worship. The last song, “The Spirit and the Bride,” is the exception.

The two songs written with Mia Fieldes are mature reflections. “Every Little Prison (Deliver Me)” reminds me of Rich Mullins’ “Save Me.” It covers some of the same ground, but this track is far better. “Every Thing and Nothing” is filled with the same longing that comes from world-weariness.

Maher finds freedom in being honest about faith. It is Jacob wrestling with God and receiving the blessing. The process is painful, but we are changed. As the line from “Turn Around” reminds us, it begins with a decision: “You don’t need to move / Love has come to you / All you gotta do is turn around.” Maher repeatedly encourages us to come to terms with reality.  

This includes two excellent, back-to-back love songs, which slow the tempo. Maher provides variation by making the second more acoustic. In the first his lover is compared to grace and mercy.

The CD title comes from “Heaven and Earth,” which touches on the familiar now-but-not-yet aspect of the Christian life. We are seated with Christ in heavenly places while having an earthly sojourn. God sustains us through the tension: “Between Heaven and Earth / Oh, You’re all I need, You’re all I need / Between Heaven and Earth / You’re the love in between, the love in between.”

I am all for various types of worship, especially those that exude creativity. Unfortunately, popular forms are often unoriginal. I am glad that Maher chose to make a pop rock record that explores the reach for God. This sounds fresh, and the truthfulness is a form of worship that we can appreciate. If you can relate to struggle, this CD will resonate. 
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