Written by: Laura Chambers (9/11/17)
*Revised for Deluxe Edition release 6/22/18
Commitment is a concept that gets thrown around a lot. We commit to a spouse by taking vows to love, honor, and obey; we commit to serve our nation by taking oaths of office; we commit to business agreements by signing legal documents; we walk down the aisle to the altar and commit our lives to Christ. But do we truly realize the monumental steps we are taking? So often, the solemn pledges of yesterday become the struggles of today, and ultimately the closed doors of tomorrow. As shiny temptations lure and storms rage, we lose our resolve to finish what we started.
It doesn’t have to end that way. If we resolve to go deeper than we ever have, with God’s help, we can overcome our human frailties and have a rich, meaningful life that glorifies God and blesses everyone around us. Matthew West takes a hard look inwards, bringing our attention to the things we all wish we could change, encouraging us to change what we can and learn from what we cannot. All In sets out with a new determination to take our relationships with God and man to the next level.
“All In” finds us in a very familiar place; the comfortable in-between where everything is manageable. Though we yearn for more, it would mean taking risks and putting all we have in danger for something we may not achieve. There’s a lot more at stake here; what we choose demonstrates our level of faith in God. Do we trust Him with the sacrifices He asks us to lay on the table? It’s all or nothing. “Broken Things” challenges our idea that our humility leads to rejection by reminding us that God has a history of selecting the unlikely heroes and the most hard-luck cases to redeem and display His glory. You need only look through the pages of the Bible and the myriad of testimonies which follow to see the truth of this; we receive that which we least deserve. “Mercy Is A Song” defines several aspects of God’s promise to us simply and joyfully; themes like compassion and liberty as the soaring music of many voices. West reminds us that lies from the devil still speak to us in an attempt to steal our souls and our joy by reminding us of who we used to be as though the description still applied. He also encourages us with the hope that is yet to come; a future spent rejoicing in heaven forever. “Amen” brings a bit of joy to the album, transporting us out of our ordinary surroundings for a few minutes of revival. A testimony, a baptism, praise God and pass the microphone, and repeat. Behind us is the hopelessness we escaped, ahead is hope and peace. In “The Sound Of A Life Changing”, West looks back to the moment where God confirmed to him that he would someday perform music that would share the good news of the gospel. (Amazingly enough, the man whose concert he was attending at the time, Steven Curtis Chapman, has co-writer credit on this song.) While recognizing his own limitations, he nevertheless wonders sometimes if his music will have the same affect on somebody sitting out in his audience. Will one of his songs become the soundtrack for a turning point?
“Something Greater” questions whether the ordinary moments in our lives, like beginning a new chapter in our lives, or going through great trials, are hiding a grander mystery than we can comprehend. We may believe we know and cause what’s going on, but God is writing something between the lines of our joys and pains that we’ll someday come to recognize if we stand back and look at if from a distance. “Jesus & You” compares the two most precious promises in West‘s life; that of Jesus and that of his wife. When battling weakness or uncertainty, guilt or obstacles, there’s a guiding light emanating from both that inspires gratitude. They are his undeserved gifts, treasures that continue to encourage, refine, and restore in different ways. “The Beautiful Things We Miss” gives us a window into the aching hearts of those we ignore and cautions us not to take the beauty of life for granted. Someday, we won’t have a chance to appreciate them. We’ll look up from the things we chased and find out that what truly mattered left a long time ago while we valued lesser objects. In “1 Song”, West assures God that if there was only one more song left in him, He’d dedicate it to God. Rather than try to polish it up with fancy words and melodies to make people happy, he’d please God first by making sure the message came through – one of praise and thanksgiving. “Power Love Sound Mind” gives four examples of ordinary people struggling to make it through one more day, all of them facing fear and sorrow. We don’t have to bow to our struggles, or believe the lie that restrains us by convincing us to hold back because we won’t triumph. We have strength, love, and sanity because of God. He has released us from the chains and given us the keys.
“Never Ever Give Up” is a tribute to all of the survivors and fighters West has ever met or heard about that continue to press on no matter what they run up against. Instead, they do exactly what nobody expects them to do, and get the results nobody imagined they could. They are the kind of people who move others to keep fighting, too. “Dream Again” encourages us to continue believing for miracles even after hope seems to have vanished. Instead of focusing on what we can’t change, God will show us what we can still accomplish even this late in the game. As long as we live, there’s still hope for us. Whether it’s a second chance, a revelation, a miracle, or a surrender, God isn‘t finished with us yet. “Becoming Me” is a sweet tribute to motherhood in which West and his daughter Lulu both thank their mothers for shaping them into the person they have grown into or are growing up to be. Through love and modeling a life well-lived, mothers have a great impact on their children’s character. Lastly, “You Are Known” takes the form of a letter from God to everyone who feels small and worthless. God knows who they are and hears their hearts, but He doesn’t reject them for it. He sees possibilities that they would never imagine or believe. Realizing that God knows you and loves you changes everything.
The deluxe version of the album features five additional tracks, acoustic versions of the songs “Broken Things”, “All In”, “Mercy Is a Song”, “The Beautiful Things We Miss”, and “Jesus and You”. Instead of delivering a punch to the conscience or a jolt of truth, these arrangements allow West’s messages to soak into our souls. Hopefully, those who may have allowed the message to pass them by will stop and listen this time around.
When you begin a task, but your heart just isn’t in it, it can be easy to miss out on what matters. Seeing our lives and everything we have been loaned for a season as the gifts from God that they are gives us a new perspective on everything. We can battle the lies with strength drawn from His power, truth spoken in His word, and love pouring from His heart. Matthew West challenges us to double down on our commitments to God, each other, and the fight. Through songs both soul-stirring and heart-warming, All In has an answer for every objection, a motivation for every circumstance, and a message for every soul.