Something to Say
One of the biggest dilemmas a session songwriter like Matthew West faces is whether to make a solo career be the extension of his day job, or to do something altogether different the moment he chooses to step in front of the microphone. As a hitmaker for the likes of Mandisa, Natalie Grant, Point of Grace, and the occasional country act, West excels at penning melodic, serviceable pop anthems that get neatly wrapped up in just under four minutes. Incidentally, he's not too dissimilar to his role as a songster — it's hard to distinguish whether some of his songs are leftovers from previous writing sessions or if they're an outpouring of where he stands as a stand-alone artist. In theory, West should have a lot to say on Something to Say, his third solo effort: he recorded it in the wake of a bout with vocal cord polyps, the same malady that once nearly sidelined Whitney Houston for good. Lamentably, nothing about this ordeal was chronicled on this album, whose press materials go to great lengths to describe. Instead, Something to Say is likable but ultimately impersonal Christian pop, large on indelible melodies, soaring hooks, and a pop/rock sound already championed by CCM peers Steven Curtis Chapman, Mark Schultz, and Chris Tomlin. West does have a distinctive half-rapped, half-sung vocal style in the more upbeat tunes, and "Life Inside You" and "Moment of Truth" are gutsy slices of real-life pop. Outside of that, Something to Say merely goes through the motions, only occasionally surpassing the best West has contributed to his own clientele over the years.