Review – Matt Papa

7

mp-tent-coverThere has been lots of attention and talk given to Matt Papa’s new CD “Your Kingdom Come” from Centricity Music. With a fairly distinct style, a certain lyrical straightforwardness and comparisons to Keith Green, Matt has captured peoples’ focus with this album.

I’ll admit right up front that I’m a big fan of Centricity and what they are doing with their artists. I love their strategy and their willingness to take risks on artists that may not fit the expectations of the typical CCM consumer – Downhere, Jason Gray, and Matt Papa are all pretty good examples of that. Giving Matt a chance to share his music is a pretty cool thing and Matt has not wasted the opportunity. “Your Kingdom Come” is a collection of songs laser-focused on Jesus, His church and His Kingdom. Matt’s passion and heartbeat for the church comes through again and again in ways that caught my attention.

Being a worship director at a church, I’m usually looking for songs that can be used in congregational worship. I’ll highlight those songs in this review but this album is better described as songs for the church rather than songs from the church. Matt’s musical style combined with his lyrical focus may not always translate to a congregational style but there is tons of great stuff here.

1. Hallelujah, Our God Reigns
This is a great opener for the album. Upbeat, energetic, in your face – this really sets the tone for the whole record. Almost like a “Psalm 1” of the CD it sets the listener on the course for the rest of the songs. “Hallelujah, for our Lord God Almighty reigns / Just and holy, He is worthy, our God reigns.” Don’t hit ‘next’ on this song too quick – you’ve got to hear the piano/vocal breakdown near the end. Awesome.

2. So Come Reign
Track 2 is a little Selah, almost. A bit of a musical break before moving things along. Neat little middle eastern groove and melody.

3. Your Kingdom Come
This one sounds like it’s ready for radio. I love the arrangements on this record and all the instrumental layering that happens. Great job by the producer to make everything fit together nicely. I really like how this song sits in the “now but not yet” of God’s coming Kingdom.

4. Open Hands
Seems like this is the song that Centricity is trying to get noticed. They’ve provided chord charts and a teaching video from Matt that is pretty helpful for people wanting to learn this song. Nice lyrical contrast between our “open hands” in our following of God and the “open hands” of Christ giving up everything for our salvation’s sake.

5. Here Am I, Send Me
A fairly familiar theme lyrically but I love the focus on the Isaiah 6 emotion – that the calling for those who follow Christ is not always easy, joyful and fulfilling but that in the light of God’s great holiness, His calling is still best. There is a pretty huge chasm between the singing of the willingness to go “where You lead” and the living willingness to go – but the singing is a good start.

6. Seek It First
Nice little retro-CCM moment. Another little Selah as the record moves along.

7. To The Least Of These
I can hear this song being used in a congregational setting as part of a response to a message on living out our faith in Christ by being the hands and feet of Jesus. Lots of great reminders in the lyrics here. “I will love You Lord with all my heart, my soul, my mind and my strength / So I’ll love the ones You love” – good stuff. This is one of the songs with a very strong prophetic feel to it, in the sense of calling God’s people to action in light of who He’s called us to love.

8. Trinity
Not many songs talk about God as Trinity in a way that focuses our hearts and minds on each part, uniquely. Matt does a great job of describing each person of the Trinity while at the same time affirming the holiness and sovereignty of God. “Everlasting, Righteous Father / Faithful, precious Son / Mighty, rushing Holy Spirit / He’s Father, Spirit, Son / The Lord our God is One”

9. You Can Do Anything
This song’s a bit of a curve ball compared to the rest of the record but it’s a good spot for it. I’m thinking that Matt has lots of fun with this when he performs live – it would definitely get people moving. Even in the fun and clappy parts the lyrics are still really solid – reminding us of God’s power and might displayed through creation, leading His people out of Israel, coming to earth as Christ and the continued belief that God is still in the business of doing great things.

10. Hymn In C
Really nice laid-back feel on this song. Another song that could work in the right congregational setting. Great reminder of everything that Christ has done for us. “Never before and never again was love so great, was death so grim.”

11. Alive
Lyrically, it’s an Easter song. Instrumentally, it’s a Christmas song. Beautiful! I could definitely hear this being used as an opener for an Easter Sunday service or as part of the worship experience on that morning. I love the lyrical simplicity in the verses – Matt is very economical with his words here.

12. Every Knee Will Bow
Nice song with a great message but I found myself hitting ‘next’ on this one pretty regularly. Not sure why, just not a fan.

13. Where Is The Difference?
Alright, so here is where Matt gets pretty serious. This song does not mince words at all and takes aim directly at a church that has forgotten her first love. “Hello, my bride, how are you doing? / It’s been a while cause you’ve been busy.” Without knowing what it is that Matt has lived through to give him this pretty strong impression of the church makes it tough to evaluate where he’s coming from but there is definitely the sense that he feels a great correction is needed. “Body of Christ, more like a whore / You love this world and you call me Lord.” Yeah. Pretty strong. The prophetic vibe carries through with this song and will definitely catch some attention.

14. Woe To You
So how do you follow up on great song of condemnation? With another one, of course! Haha. “You look very religious, you follow all your little rules / But you don’t follow Jesus, you just talk like you should.” Ouch. Matt is definitely taking on contemporary church culture with this album and I love it. I’m intrigued to see how people respond to this and where he goes next. As much as people (as much as I?) don’t like hearing it, these are some great words and a solid reminder to be focused on Christ and His Kingdom, not our own comfort and happiness. “Woe to you, woe to you / You call him Lord but He’s just your genie / Woe, woe to you.”

15. We Will Shine
Love it, love it, love it. From the beginning stomps and guitar lines, this song builds like crazy. I love the lyrical picture of a global army of love being deployed by God to “shake the darkness with His praise in our lips and His love in our hands.” Great stuff.

16. No One Else
I’d love to try this song out at my church. I think it’s got a great vibe to it and the lyrics are beautiful. Really a song focused on the sovereignty, faithfulness and nearness of God. Rhythmically it is pretty tricky but I think if a worship team spent some good time on this song they could make it work. Lots of half-note triplet stuff going on which is pretty different for this style of music.

17. 117
The album ends on a bit of a light-hearted note with a 1:17 rendition of Psalm 117 on track 17. Not sure of the last time I heard a harpsichord on a worship CD but if you’ve been waiting for it to happen then this is your song!

Overall, this is a solid introduction to Matt and his music on a national scale. Some people will love it, some people will hate it. At the very least, people will talk about it. The way these songs are written, played and produced, they are worth talking about!



is the Associate Director of Worship & Media at St. Simons Community Church, where he mentors, oversees and helps lead Family and Student worship environments. He is also the content curator and editor here at The Worship Community and at HighestPraise.com.

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