God of Every Story
Artist: Laura Story (www.laurastory.com)
Length: 11 tracks/41 minutes
If it’s the life that prays, the same thought has relevance to worship. Though clichéd, “worship is a lifestyle” tells the truth that worship is expressed in how one lives. Part of it is valuing God above all else, as Laura Story puts it on God of Every Story, “Now I find that the comforts of this heart are not in things / or in the joys that this life brings / but just to be the very workmanship of God / to know He’s with me / to know He’s for me.” An attitude such as this is adoration.
Story first gained notoriety through the song, “Indescribable,” on her first solo release by the same name. Chris Tomlin made the song popular on his album Arriving. Her fourth release, Blessings (2012), won Dove awards for Pop/Contemporary Recorded Song of the Year, Pop/Contemporary Recorded Album of the Year, and Song of the Year for “Blessings.”
On this her fifth recording Story continues to build on the style of “Indescribable.” Some tracks, particularly the more rousing ones, might be used in congregational settings. More intriguing are the confessional singer/songwriter reflections, of which there are plenty. One of my favorite disclosures is found on “I Can Just Be Me,” “I’ve been feeling like a failure trying to be braver than I can ever be / it’s just not me.”
Similarly, on “Grace,” Story sings, “At times I may grow weak and feel a bit discouraged / knowing that someone somewhere can do a better job.” I applaud this transparency and vulnerability.
The title track is structured like a country song, and could even pass for one, with introductory tales of woe that lead to a personal event in Story’s life. God is faithful to each Story, she and her husband, and now a baby girl. This track and the opening, “There is a Kingdom,” are accented by mandolin, which adds a wonderful touch.
It’s easy to be numb to the desperation voiced by others. But when hardships come, you can suddenly feel like you are living a similar reality. It’s no longer just letters on a page or words in a song. At such times, the opening lines of “Keeper of the Stars” can be like a buttress against a wave of trial, “Against all hope in hope I believe / You, O Lord, are faithful / You are good and You are able / When it seems impossible to me / Your promises are all true / What You say I know You will do.”
Those who favor energetic modern worship may find this overly introspective with too many piano-driven ballads. The last four tracks are all pensive. While some may not like this, Story is at her best on the two songs with the least production. “Who but Jesus” is structured like an ancient hymn. Each line magnifies the glories of Christ. Piano and strings accompany Story’s elegant vocals.
The closing “He Will Not Let Go” is a lovely benediction. A stark musical landscape is the perfect setting for a brokenness that has a sublime trust in God.