Review Rating: Must Listen! [4.7 / 5]
What are the "echoes" hinted across award-winning artist Matt Maher's latest album? They're heard in reimagined hymns, their old yet beloved words given fresh new melodies and a new energy. They're seen in Matt's sincere lyrics, ones that focus on who Christ is and how He works within His own. They're found in that one moment where the song hits a listener without expectation, giving them a chance to be honest with themselves and relate to beautifully sincere music. Wherever one hears them, Echoes takes listeners from moments of reflection to praises and thankfulness, packaged with engaging melodies and the undeniable urge to put it all on repeat.
Following a strings-oriented opener, Matt Maher presents a sincere and passionate prayer through "Clean Heart." His guitar work may be the foundation as the drums hold a steady beat, but his vocal work immediately grabs listeners from the start of the song. The sound of sincerity and humility ties the melody to the track's themes, juxtaposing a lament of the pain and evil in this world with a plea for Jesus Christ to intervene. "Let me be the place You start," Matt sings, "give me a clean heart." In a place and time where it is easier to point fingers, take sides, or plead for people to simply get along, "Clean Heart" cuts past the symptoms and highlights the cause - that Christ starts with cleansing our hearts and minds.
"What A Friend" quickly follows, a reimagining of the classic hymn that celebrates Christ's faithfulness. In a stark and well-orchestrated contrast to its predecessor track, this song accelerates with fast guitar chords, rapid tambourine, and backup vocals that conceptualize a large gathering of grateful, worshipping believers. Matt leads the worship and drives the enthusiasm, giving the beloved words new life and demonstrating the kind of thankfulness that God's work inspires. Amongst the tracks on this record, "What A Friend" is certainly a highlight.
"Your Love Defends Me" showcases Matt's instrumental arsenal as he blends calm keyboard with traditional piano, acoustic guitar, drums, and background vocals. Melodically, it is one of the most engaging songs on the record. Thematically, it is a testimony of God's goodness. It sings of His love, His presence, and His protection as we walk through this world. "You're my portion, my salvation … surely my God is my strength and my song" Matt sings across the bridge and chorus, reminders of how the Savior provides.
The album adapts more hymns with "Just As I Am" and "Awake My Soul," two calm and moving piano pieces that drive themes of coming before His presence. Notably, "Picket Sign" adapts the idea of a protest and displays themes of how Christ is the only remedy to the problems we face in the world. Towards the close is the unexpectedly titled "As Good As It Gets," an acoustic piece that takes its own spin on the popular phrase. It represents the themes of the album as a whole - that God is us all we need and His presence is, quite sincerely, as good as it gets.
Many themes resonate across Echoes, where Matt Maher blends beautiful melodies with powerful themes of God's goodness and love. He emphasizes the Savior's presence across each track, driving the emphasis on His goodness and faithfulness. Said songs are engaging and captivate listeners, giving them moments to reflect on Christ's work in their lives. For encouragement and worship, Echoes is well worth the repeated listening.