A Review of Matt Maher's Saints and Sinners

I first heard Matt Maher’s music during a retreat. We sang a few of his songs as part of praise and worship ceremonies. And when I looked more into his music, I was surprised that he was a Catholic because his music could be heard on the Protestant Christian radio station.

When I heard about Matt Maher’s latest album, I got excited, even more so when I saw the title: Saints and Sinners. After all, it was Oscar Wilde who said “Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.” It’s quotes like that and the stories of the saints that remind me that I don’t have to be perfect.

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The album opens with a prologue called “The Field of Stars” which is a great intro, because the music sounds like a beautiful meteor shower. And, of course, the saints are as numerous as the stars in the sky, so the simile totally fits.

1) A Future Not My Own. According to Tony Rossi’s interview, this song was inspired by Archbishop Oscar Romero and on Matt Maher moving from Arizona to Tennessee. It’s safe to say that I relate to this track a lot, given my current circumstances. But it’s nice to know that even full-time grown ups like Matt Maher have their own changes to go through and face their own types of uncertainties. Fave lyric: “We see the start but You see the end/We see in part but Your love sees everything.”

2) Deliverer Deliverer starts out like a rock ballad but builds up with the bridge and rocks out towards the end. I wonder if St. Augustine was the inspiration for this particular song because it takes the point of view of a prodigal son returning to his faith after being delivered by God. It’s a pretty straightforward track and I feel like doing a major air guitar at the bridge. Any song that provokes that particular rock-out emotion is always of the good. Fave lyric: “I’m not afraid, I’m running wild/For everything that will be done/I am yours and you are my Deliverer.”

3) Glory Bound Glory Bound is a catchy Springsteen-sounding track that got my toes tapping and my hands clapping as soon as I heard it. I love the inclusiveness of this song, the fact that this train is for everyone: the broken hearted, the thieves, liars, the lost, and the found. But in spite of where the people started, all the passengers are on the same journey. Fave lyric: “Come on make some room for a little grace/Come on make some room for the sinners and the saints”

4) Land of My Father This is a more traditional sounding praise and worship song, not particularly lyrical, but it has that uplifting melody and rhythm that praise and worship songs live and breathe on. And yet, there’s a bit more to this track, too, because it brings in a bit of the Sanctus into it. Fave Lyric: The Chorus.

5) Everything Is Grace. My jaw dropped as I read the title to this song and I was even more shocked when my suspicions were correct. This song was inspired by none other than Saint Therese. Needless to say, I fell in love with track fast and relate to this song a lot. My love for Saint Therese aside, this is a wonderful song about having faith and praising God in the bad times. Plus that line about walking through the flames makes me recall another wonderful song about walking through the fire. The beat is really good, too. Fave Lyric: Also the chorus.

6) The Invocation. The Invocation is an interlude, a solemn prayer about discernment, calling upon the Holy Spirit for guidance. It gives me chills as the solemn song turns into a cry.

7) Sons and Daughters. This song starts out and ends with sound bites from Martin Luther King Jr. This song is a “stand together, work together” kind of song. I so wish the darker side of the internet could hear this song because all their hashtag activism doesn’t really add up to all the bile they spread. This song is a balm and an example of a more motivating song about working together to overcome obstacles. Fave lyric: “We are marching on, but there’s a price we have to pay/For love meaning taking on, the weight of what was won.”

8) Firelight. The fact that this song was inspired by Mother Teresa already makes this song awesome. It starts out like a country song and goes towards a hard rock beat towards the end. The lyrics speak about needing an increase of faith in a time of darkness. Having faith isn’t always an easy thing and this song speaks about that desire for God’s presence, or at least the desire to have that desire. Fave lyric: “All of my memories are turning into scars/Oh my God put back what’s been torn apart.”

9) Instrument The lyrics of this song inspired by the prayer of St. Francis. The melody of this song is ballad-like, a peaceful song compared to some of the other intense tracks. It’s a wonderful prayerful song, reminding me of Danielle Rose or Audrey Assad’s prayer songs. Just be careful when you listen to this song during Lent because it says “Hallelujah.” Thankfully we’re in Easter, so we don’t have to worry about that anymore.

10) Abide With Me The title comes from an old traditional Christian song, but the song has a very Lenten feel to it. The lyrics speak about a broken world and mention Gethsemane. This is a song to listen to when you really need Christ by your side, a song for the bad times. The most reassuring lyric is that Love won’t let us go. God’s love is a love that doesn’t smother, but tethers us to a safe haven.

11) The Waiting. The Waiting is another short interlude, talking about the evening. It’s a prayer of rest and recalls the Easter Vigil.

12) Because He Lives (Amen) This song is uplifting, a perfect song for the Easter season. It resonates with repetitions of “Amen” and the melody is powerful and moving. My favorite part of the song is “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow/Because He lives, every fear is gone/I know He holds my life my future in His hands.” Given what happened to me and what I’m going through, I am reminded that Jesus, the perfect love, casts out all of my fears.

13) Rest. This song takes inspiration from Psalm 23. This song can be easily played on acoustic guitar and is an intimate sounding song compared to the concert hall crowd pleasing tracks. The lyric that resonates the most from this song is “I trust in You.” It might just be because I’ve been praying the Divine Mercy Novena, but faith and trust go together like peanut butter and jelly, so the repetition of “I trust in You” is always a wonderful thing.

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