Review Rating: Must Listen! [4.8 / 5]
For acclaimed artist Ryan Stevenson, hindsight is a testimony of God's goodness. Through the ups and downs, the good and the bad, he's written songs about the Savior that resonate with listeners and dominate airplay charts - favorites like "Eye Of The Storm" and "Speak Life." It's no surprise, then, that No Matter What is the latest and greatest of Ryan's music. Every track encourages listeners with sincere, thoughtful lyrics and moving, motivating sounds, with songs and moments guaranteed to become beloved favorites.
Refreshing honesty and vulnerability abound in "Child In Your Arms," a track that describes God the Father and His protection. Guitar chords take the spotlight in the melody, with synths and percussion to accent the rising moments of the track. Between calm verses, the song builds throughout each chorus and pours its energy into electronic aftermaths. The lyrics reflect this blend of comfort and confidence, describing the safety and security of a child in the arms of the Heavenly Father.
Easily one of the highlights of the album, "The Gospel" is the strongest track of this album and arguably of Ryan's entire discography. A bright and hopeful melody arises, driven by piano notes, a choir of voices, and a light beat. Until the chorus, the sound builds with a moving and joyful crescendo that peaks with thundering drums and Ryan's passionate vocals. Its lyrics share in the hope, describing the good news of Christ and the change it creates in lives. "To the captive, it looks like freedom, to the orphan it feels like home," Ryan describes. "… in a world where our hearts are breaking … it's the Gospel that makes a way." A deceptively simple yet powerful song, "The Gospel" is guaranteed to become a fan favorite.
Themes of faithfulness and forgiveness saturate the album, especially in the title track. "No Matter What" calmly flows with a hopeful tone, relying on guitar and keyboard to support the encouraging vocals. Bart Millard of MercyMe joins Ryan as a guest vocalist, with both singing about God's unfailing love despite failures. These themes are revisited in "Faithful," with a slight shift in focus. A prayer for God to "find (us) faithful," the song declares a desire for Christ to make us more like Him and to give us the strength needed. Amy Grant lends her vocal talents to the track, adding a beautiful dynamic to the powerful and motivating chorus.
Towards the close of the album is the retrospective "Always Been You," a fantastic follow-up to the fun and nostalgia-filled "Single-Wide Dreamin'." Steadily energetic beats combine with electronic chimes, accented by electric guitar chords and acoustic guitar notes to create an upbeat and bright song. A testimony of God's presence creates the core of the track, with Ryan describing how He has worked and will continue to work in his life. "Jesus, I don't want the glory, I've got nothing left to prove," Ryan sings, "because the hero of my story has always been You."
The best word to describe No Matter What is sincerity. It's packed in every song, painting a picture of just how good and loving God truly is. It's evident in every lyric and every note, engaging listeners in energetic moments - encouraging, inspiring, motivating, and bringing to mind the "always been You" moments in our lives. Ryan Stevenson clearly brings his best to the table with No Matter What, an album certainly worth listening on repeat.