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Laura Story [Blessings]
on April 12, 2011
There's no denying some of the blessings in Laura Story's life. She wrote the No. 1 worship hit "Indescribable" recorded in 2004 by Chris Tomlin, married a handsome athlete named Martin Elvington the next year, and began working in music and women's ministry at the 4,000-member Perimeter Church in Atlanta. After signing an artist deal with the INO Records, her 2008 national debut Great God Who Saves won a Dove Award for Inspirational Album and earned Laura two consecutive nominations for Female Vocalist of the Year--all blessings, indeed. But amidst that success a brain tumor hospitalized her husband in 2006. The faith Story sang about was put through the unexpected fires of fear and loneliness; most young newlyweds don't imagine being kept alive at one point by breathing machines or having to find their way through significant post-operative vision and memory loss. Could grace notes resound from such a life-altering struggle? Laura's incisive new album, Blessings, suggests they do.
Laura has quickly become one of my all-time favorite singer-songwriters. Her songs are all catchy, uplifting and filled with biblical truth. Opening songs "This Is The Day" and "Friend Of Sinners" perfectly display all of those traits. From the truth of "this is the day of our salvation," to "friend of sinners, our Deliverer, Jesus Savior of the world, sent from Heaven, King of Glory, You're the Servant of us all," every single lyric of every song is dedicated as an offering to our King and Savior Jesus. This is the perfect album to focus your heart and mind on Jesus as we prepare for Easter. Musically, the orchestral, piano, and guitar arrangements are all catchy and uplifting and church worship leaders could literally add every song to their set lists. "You Are Love" and "What A Savior" are amazing congregational songs, with very sing-able vertical lyrics. In "You Are Love," Laura passionately sings, "Everlasting, Never-ending, All Consuming, You Are Love, Oh God of the Heavens, You have ascended from Your throne...by this all men will know." In "What A Savior," my favorite part of the song is the bridge, "You are the way the truth and the life, You are my joy and salvation, Stood in my place taking my shame." Those words are a great reminder that we don't have to stand in shame anymore before the Lord. The sins that we have committed in the past, present and future have all been taken away by Jesus. Jesus bore all of that shame on the cross and gives us cause to celebrate "Hallelujah, what a Savior!"
The stand-out song of the album and surefire GMA Dove Award nominee for song of the year is Blessings' breathtaking title track and first single which has already topped the Christian charts. "Blessings" has some of the best lyrics I've ever heard in any song. I can't get enough of Laura's transparency and confessional challenges to all of us as believers in this incredible song. I am wrecked by the lyrics, "What if my greatest disappointments, Or the aching of this life, Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can't satisfy." Something Laura and I discussed was that as believers we need to remember that this world is not our home. We have a much bigger agenda, and the security of everlasting life as promised by our Savior Jesus. As this song so beautifully depicts, we weren't made for this world.
The album is chock full of potential radio singles and every song is completely captivating. "Your Name Will Be Praised" has yet another worshipful bridge, "For Who You are, for what You've done, for what You've yet to do...All glory to You!" Ballads are certainly one of Laura's strengths as after dabbing my eyes and getting goose bumps constantly during "Blessings," two other stand-out songs are featured in the second half of the album, "One Life To Lose" and "Prodigal Song." "One Life To Lose" is another probable hit song with Laura's gorgeous and passionate proclamation, "For there's One Lord Who leads, I have learned when I am lost, it's there that I am found." "Prodigal Song" keeps the tears flowing as Laura sings a story-song about "Henry" where Laura sings "his father waits, and He is watching, and He is hoping, His eyes are weary, His arms are open, His prayer, so softly spoken, please come home...to your seat at the table, to your Father who weeps." The song even has a "Cats In The Cradle" moment where Henry changes from the prodigal son to the father. Laura's brilliant songwriting and engaging singing voice makes this one of those albums that you can literally listen to daily for encouragement and times of prayer and reflection. Closing songs "Remember" and "Faithful God" are both great worship songs for the Church similar to "Bless The Lord" and "Perfect Peace" from Great God Who Saves.
With Great God Who Saves winning a GMA Dove Award for Inspirational Album and earning Laura two consecutive nominations for Female Vocalist of the Year, Blessings completely solidifies Laura as the premier singer-songwriter in the Inspirational genre. I fully expect Laura and her stellar album to be nominated for multiple awards including album, female vocalist, artist and song of the year. Don't miss out on one of the best albums of the year!