Best known for penning Indescribable, Laura Story is back this month with her fourth studio album God Of Every Story.
Her previous offering, Blessings was described by the singer as a "bunch of songs about worshipping when life is hard". Laura's husband Martin had been diagnosed with a brain tumour and the singer found herself wondering "why don't you just fix it, God?"
There's good reason to read the album title as "God of every Story" with a capital 'S' as the closing verse of the title track is "Martin is thankful he's alive / The doctors said he might not survive / That was 7 years ago, what a miracle / Now there's this new baby girl / With one breath she's changed our whole world / Some say she looks like dad, but she looks like grace to me."
As well as being a deeply personal offering, Laura's new album is also a worship project. The wealth of God-centred tracks is unsurprising given that many of them have been written with seasoned worship writer Jason Ingram (Forever Reign, Awake My Soul and Never Once).
Opener, There Is A Kingdom, is chirpy and upbeat, full of sparkling acoustic guitars and a vocal that overpowers the rest of the mix. If you've ever uttered the words "Christian music sounds the same" this is not the recording for you. Yet, as the appearance of Ed Cash in the production credits suggest, this is a very well put together album.
Fans of Kari Jobe will love the combination of joyful pop music mixed with declarations of praise. Those looking for new songs to sing at church would also do well to give God of Every Story a good listen.
O Love Of God picks up where Indescribable left off. "I see you in the stars above, I feel you in the earth below," Laura sings. Keeper of the Stars also picks up on the creation theme and you know the singer means it when she says, with considerable emotion in her voice "The vows of faith you teach me to see / The light in every dark night / knowing it will be alright".
This is a project brimming with faith and trust. Every line is delivered with the kind of certainty that many Christians would find enviable. But Laura's story (forgive the pun) is one that demonstrates the faithfulness of God, so this theme is bound to come through in her music.
While it would be easy to describe Laura as a singer, her biography on Twitter reads differently. "Play a little music on the side," she writes playfully, choosing to place her occupation as a mother as priority number one.
Final track He Will Not Let Go is a piano led ballad that comes and goes all too quickly. It's the kind of track you'll want to play over and over again, especially when times are hard. The combination of beautiful music and heartfelt lyrics is so special that any description of this song would be inadequate.
This album is a project best understood in the light of Laura's own life. Indeed the play on words (story/Story) will be misunderstood or ignored unless careful attention is played to the aforementioned lyrics in the title track.
A comparison can perhaps be made between this album and Steven Curtis Chapman's Beauty Will Rise (the latter was produced after a family tragedy which resulted in the death of Chapman's 5-year-old daughter). Although Chapman's record is significantly darker, both recordings mix tragic circumstances with hope and with worship.
While the music on Story's latest project may seem ordinary and run of the mill, the experiences behind it are anything but that. And it's those experiences which fuel Laura's voice on God of Every Story and gives listeners a unique insight into the singer's life.