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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Window of Light

  • reviewed by Christa Banister Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Aug
Window of Light
Sounds like … acoustic-styled pop similar to Shawn Colvin, Carolyn Arends or Amy Grant's Behind the Eyes eraAt a glance … while her voice is certainly a highlight, it's the way Ali Matthews weaves in the spiritual with the everyday in her songwriting that makes Window of Light so rewardingTrack Listing Sweeter Than Wine (Prelude) Window of Light Poised for a Fall Santorini When the Silence Falls Silence Falls (reprise) Hearts Without Scars You Knew My Name Sweeter Than Wine Hear the Rumble Give It Away Lay It Down The Weapon and the Wound Which Way is Home (The Prayer of the Prodigal) Time Will Never Tell Sweeter Than Wine (Instrumental) Little Hands

Have you ever found yourself able to accurately predict what the next line of a song will be even if you haven't heard it before? Of course, there are only a certain number of chords and rhymes schemes to go around, so it's bound to happen from time to time. But it's amazing how familiar lyrics have become—especially on Christian radio. Is it that songwriters have run out of things to talk about? Or rather, do they often rely on conventional words and phrases to get the message across?

My guess is the latter, but that's really a moot point when discussing Canadian singer/songwriter Ali Matthews' fifth album, Window of Light. What's so striking about her work is that songwriting doesn't follow the expected course. Instead, she infuses her personal journey into these songs, which makes their spirituality all the more vibrant.

For "The Weapon and the Wound," Matthews says the song was intended "for anyone who knows about obsessions, addictions, or bad choices—even if it's just an insatiable passion for chocolate." It's small insights like that that add so much richness to lyrics like "Tragedy and paradise/Lie within inches from my soul/Even if they take away my very breath/I could never let you go."

On "Give It Away," a poignant commentary on modern life, the "self-proclaimed packrat" offers a sentiment that everyone has faced at one time or another: "Look at this heart/A locked-up collection/A box full of questions and memories and dreams/All bottled inside/Like secrets we're hiding/Without even trying to know what it means."

In addition to having a way with words, her voice, which is subdued and folksy like Shawn Colvin or latter-day Amy Grant, perfectly complements these personal sentiments, whether it's on the ethereal sounds of "When the Silence Falls" or the piano-driven "You Knew My Name."

But even more important to Matthews than making music that's pleasing to the ear is that she's being blatantly honest in what she's communicating. "I desire to write songs that connect us with each other—songs that tap into our hopes and heartaches, our fears and passions, the things that make us vulnerable, the things that tell us we are alive," she says. "I see a dark and broken world in desperate need of mercy and compassion. And I am compelled to create music that will draw us closer to grace, to each other, and to our Creator. I am not a preacher—just a fellow traveler on this fascinating ride."

For more information about Matthews, check out www.alimatthews.com.

If you are an independent artist who would like to be considered for review on our site, please send your CD(s) and any related press materials to editor of independent artist coverage:

Christa Banister
Attn: Independent Christian Artists
300 E. 4th St. Suite 406
St. Paul, MN 55101

Due to the number of projects we receive, we are unable to cover or correspond with every artist that contributes. But we do give all submissions a fair listen for coverage consideration.

© Christa Banister, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.