Saints and Sinners – Matt Maher (Deluxe Edition)
I was only vaguely familiar with Maher before seeing him open for Toby Mac last December. It was at that concert that I first heard “Because He Lives (Amen)”, which has been one of my favorite songs since that time. The original studio version of the song, as well as an unplugged version, appear on this new album.
It was years after I first enjoyed Chris Tomlin’s versions of “Your Grace is Enough” and “Lord, I Need You” that I found out that they had been written by Maher, who is a Roman Catholic, a rarity in contemporary Christian music. I much enjoyed last year’s All the People Said Amen, a live album of some of his most popular songs live with a few new ones mixed in.
The album title comes from an Oscar Wilde quote: “Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future”. This is somewhat of a concept album. I picked up the phrase “saints and sinners” in the lyrics of a few of the songs. Many of the songs were inspired by saints and sinners such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Archbishop Oscar Romero, St. Therese of Lisieux, Bill Gaither, Mother Theresa, Maher’s grandmother and St. Francis. The album was produced by Paul Moak.
The deluxe edition of this new album includes nineteen songs. Here are a few comments or lyrics about each of them:
“The Field of Stars” – a less than a minute opener which features the album’s title in the lyrics.
“Future Not My Own” – features a heavy drum and bass sound. It was inspired by martyr Archbishop Oscar Romero.
This is a great unknown
Love is a long and narrow road
Come chase this heart of stone
I need a future not my own
“Deliverer” – co-written with Bo and Bear Rinehart of NEEDTOBREATHE. An upbeat song with interesting vocal inflections from Maher.
My God, from the flood and from the fire
You brought me out, I am alive
With a faith, just like a child
I’m not afraid, I’m running wild
For everything that will be done
I am yours and you are my
“Glory Bound” – an upbeat modern country hand-clapper that is sure to be a favorite in concert.
Well I don’t know which way you’re going
And I don’t know if you’re lost or found
All that I know is you’ve been forgiven
I tell you this train is glory bound
So come on make some room in your heart for mercy
Come on make some room for a little grace
Come on make some room for the sinners and the saints
“Land of My Father” – upbeat and joyous. Another one that will be a good one to sing along with in concert, especially the chorus:
Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty
We sing Holy, Holy, my eyes have seen the glory
Of the great God Almighty
“Everything is Grace” – drums are dominant on this song. Maher pours out his grateful heart to the Lord on this song which features the words of St. Therese of Lisieux.
Whatever comes my way
I will walk through the flames
You’re turning my fear to faith
My doubt to praise
And everything is grace
“The Invocation” – a short prayer featuring piano and strings. Mentions “sons and daughters”, which is the title of the next song.
“Sons and Daughters” – portions of speeches from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. are featured on this song which Maher wrote with Jason Ingram and Ike Ndolo, the latter of which lived in Missouri during the Civil Rights movement.
All my brothers help each other
All my sisters walk together
No one is a stranger
We’re all sons and daughters
“Firelight” – this has a bit of a bluegrass feel, featuring excellent drums. It was inspired by words from Mother Teresa to be lights in the darkness.
If anyone remembers my name
If I’m ever known for anything
Let it be I ran into the night
Running with a firelight, firelight
“Instrument” – co-written with Jon Foreman of Switchfoot. I enjoyed the piano and strings. It begins as an intimate song; the drum beat kicks and leads to a powerful prayerful chorus and then back to an intimate ending.
To the Father and the Son
And the Holy Spirit, three in One
I offer you myself, though I’m broken and spent
Let me be Your instrument
Let me be Your instrument
“Abide with Me” – one of our pastors is leading a study on abiding, so this song is timely for me especially as we prepare to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord. It’s a beautiful piano driven prayerful song.
Abide with me, abide with me
Don’t let me fall, and don’t let go
Walk with me and never leave
Ever close, God abide with me
“The Waiting” – a short piano driven meditation. Maher again mentions sinners and the saints in the lyrics.
Because He Lives (Amen) – the first single. One of my favorite songs of the past few months, it is inspired by Bill Gaither’s classic song “Because He Lives”.
I’m alive, I’m alive
Because He lives
Let my song join the one that never ends
Because He lives
“Rest” – an acoustic guitar driven song. It features background vocals from the Vespers and is based on Psalm 23. It was written during a time when Maher’s grandmother’s health was failing.
You restore my soul and You give me rest
“Borrowed Time” – an upbeat song featuring piano and drums about the urgency to start living because we are living on borrowed time. Another that will sound good in concert.
“Because of You” – a prayer to the Lord saying that everything we have is because of the Lord. Excellent drums and bass on this song.
If I shine it’s because of You
If I love it’s because of You
If I’m strong it’s because of You
It’s all because of You
“Garden” – recorded live. Starts with just an acoustic guitar and then builds; it showcases Maher’s piano playing.
And You walk with me
You never leave
You’re making my heart a garden
Because He Lives (Amen) – an unplugged version of a wonderful song featuring his excellent piano playing.
This is an excellent album, with excellent lyrics and diverse and creative musical arrangements. It will be one of my top albums for 2015.