West plies commanding pipes to power-guitar-pop with a post grunge ready-for-mainstream pleasantness. If you mix Stephen Curtis Chapman’s tight songwriting with MercyMe’s power rock you come out with Into the Light, Matthew West’s fourth studio project. And though there is a clear production sheen and accessibility, the key with West goes beyond his catchy writing style—he fills his radio-ready tunes with a heart and depth rarely heard on the waves. With a clear and solid social awareness, Into the Light taps both the head and the heart to evoke strong responses from the listener. In “Do Something” West cries out in frustration asking God to do something about modern slavery, and God responds with, “I did … I created you.” Though the action-oriented worship element is present in the release, we don’t leap into it void of inward devotional songs; West gives us a proclamation of who we are as the royal priesthood, the paid for children of the one true King (“Hello My Name Is”) and calls us to being a people who turn the other cheek (“Forgiveness”), among many other insights.
The stories in the songs lean closer to expositions than unfolding plots, but the heart and the intent is still as potent as a well-crafted sermon that has been put to catchy three-and-a-half-minute melodies. At once heady and emotional, entertaining and provocative, Into the Light is a braided coil where West charges headlong into deep issues and Christ’s world-saving solution, all with a listenable musical quality.
More: West has created a perfect example of catchy Christian AC rock-with-conviction and filled it with soaring tones and hooky choruses.
Less: The songs give the answers more than they let the listener discover them.