Overall Grade: 5/5
Prime Cuts: Hello, My Name Is, When I Say I Do, The Motions
"Grace Wins" isn't just the titular of Matthew West's 2015 #1 hit, it's also the mantra of his career. At least twice in his storied metier, West almost had to quit being a musician. The first happened a couple of weeks before he signed his contract with Universal South records. Finding himself locked out of his own house, West tried breaking in via the window. Inadvertently cutting himself by a broken glass, West's hand was bleeding profusely. West panicked and found himself running along the street crying loudly before passing out. Finally, he was saved by some Spanish speaking Christian construction workers who prayed for him before sending him to the hospital. As a result of his accident, West almost lost his ability to play the guitar because a prominent vein in his hand was severed.
The second incident happened in 2007 when West discovered fatigue in his vocal chords. Upon check-up, it was diagnosed that he had a vocal polyp that was haemorrhaging. West then had to undergo surgery that was described as "career threatening." Thus, underlying these 14 songs is the story of God's grace. If it were not for God's grace, none of these songs would have been played across the airwaves. And more importantly, none of these songs would have helped millions in their difficult times.
"Hello, My Name Is: Greatest Hits" is West's first best of collection where 14 of his biggest hits have been garnered from his 2003's major label debut "Happy" to 2017's "All in." Though there are no formerly unreleased or new cuts in the collection, this set does contain West's 7 #1 hits and most of his biggest radio successes bar his #1 Christmas hit with Amy Grant "Give This Christmas Away."
One has to commend West for not "going through the motions" whenever he writes. One of the reasons why West could have such longevity in the CCM industry is because he knows how to go beneath the skin of pertinent issues. Case in point being his 2012 #2 hit "Forgiveness." Here West really gets to the core of why forgiveness is so difficult. Forgiveness, by nature, is counter intuitive. Thus, when he calls upon God's grace to melt our hardened hearts, we can't help but cry out with him. And who would forget the ultra creative "Hello My Name Is"? The song is ingeniously structured around a conversation between three characters: Regret, Doubt, and the Child of the one true King.
One also has to commend on West for his consistency. All throughout his 7 studio albums, West has had maintained his striking pop template without ever deviating into other transient fads. Yet, he also has the ability to keep his music sounding fresh and exciting. Part of this stems from his heart of humility. This is transparently expressed in his 2017 hit "Broken Things:" But if it's true You use broken thingsThen here I am Lord, I'm all Yours. Let's not forget the ballads. When West croons a slowie, you can't help but feel his love for Jesus pulsating across every note of the piano-led "When I say I Do" and the cinematic "Mended."
In many ways, West is the poster boy for CCM pop. Not only are his songs flooding our airwaves, but he is a strong reminder that grace-centered lyrics over solid tunes are much needed today. This collection wonderfully captures some of these moments together on one disc and it is definitely deserving of multiple listenings.