Great God Who Saves
Laura Story's biggest claim to fame is penning "Indescribable," the powerful modern hymn made popular by Chris Tomlin, whose version was the leadoff single of his gold-selling breakthrough album, Arriving. It's only natural that the song also appears on Great God Who Saves, Story's major-label debut, but her take is more stripped-down and contemplative, replacing the bombast with lilting upright piano, a lone cello, and understated percussion. The instrumentation is a good match for Story's voice, a winsome, delicate instrument that's best suited for intimate midweek church services, not necessarily those larger-than-life praise gatherings Tomlin and the Passion gang are accustomed to. Ironically, Story called on producer Ed Cash, another Tomlin connection, to help her with Great God Who Saves, but the two create something unusual in the modern worship canon: an album that's known for its simplicity and brokenness, not for how huge and indelible its hooks are. That's not to say Story doesn't have a handle on penning a solid, memorable worship chorus. Songs like "Bless the Lord" and "There Is Nothing" are brimming with congregational immediacy, but they're also unassuming in relation to their subject matter. "You give and take away for my good/For who am I to say what I need?" ponders Story in one of the songs, displaying a rare knack for worship penmanship that comes from a very human place, yet it's never man-centered. Such purity only heightens one's spirit of praise in the more explosive melodies, like the buoyant title track and Story's winning version of Hillsong's "Mighty to Save," which, incidentally, surpasses the original in terms of liveliness and corporate value. As the album draws to a close and the worship leader delivers minimalist, beautiful gems like "Grace" and "Perfect Peace," Great God Who Saves has already positioned itself as one of the most moving inspirational albums of 2008, a welcome reminder that worship music need not be loud and in your face to be worshipful.