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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Matt Papa

  • reviewed by Christa Banister Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Jan
Matt Papa
Sounds like … worship with a Brit rock sensibility, sort of David Crowder Band meets Oasis and Bloc PartyAt a glance … while his songs are definitely intended for congregational use, Matt Papa's knack for melody keeps his praise songs both fresh and inventiveTrack Listing You Are Good Lead Me On Unto the One Into Your Arms 95 Who Is Like You Intro My Portion Forever I Surrender All In Christ Alone 23

On first glance it could be easy to mistake Matt Papa for David Crowder's younger brother, right down to that crazy, rather disheveled hair. And while he doesn't cite him as a primary influence, Papa seems to take a few musical cues from Crowder as well, as he prefers a more unorthodox approach to modern worship.

By "unorthodox," we're not talking Crowder's recent genre-hopping A Collision here. Rather, Papa favors a decidedly British rock sound with epic guitars and larger-than-life melodies that will stick in your head for days. But before anyone would mistake his work for something from Coldplay, Papa's songs are primarily pulled straight from Scripture—something that also sets him apart from his worship contemporaries, including Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman, and even Delirious, who Papa credits with inspiring his sound, along with classical legends like Bach.

It certainly doesn't hurt his cause either that Papa has an appealing voice and a relatable way of communicating simple spiritual truths. The best example is "In Your Arms," which was fashioned from Paul's lament that so often we as believers don't do the very thing we want to do. Other quieter, more contemplative moments, like "23," "Unto the One" and "Who is Like You," prove that simple lyrics can be just as compelling as complicated ones.

Reared in the Bible Belt where he grew up in the church, Papa says he discovered his need for Christ when he was 12 after his youth pastor "brought me to the realization that I needed something more, that life was bigger than just me." Two years later, Papa "felt the call" to lead worship, and he started doing so in his youth group.

Five years after that, Papa traveled with worship evangelist Chris Orr before traveling on his own while attending college in Georgia. Describing himself as "a preacher with a guitar," Papa says he desires to see God's people get back to Spirit-led, Spirit-filled worship. "I want to write songs because I think songwriters are more powerful than preachers… I like to write music that is straight out of Scripture so it gets the Word of God into people's hearts and heads." With his self-titled debut, it seems that Papa's mission has clearly been accomplished with compelling songs in a genre that's become quite crowded with less-inspired releases in recent years.

For more information about Matt Papa and his album, visit

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