Personnel: Matthew West (acoustic guitar, background vocals); Matthew West (vocals); Mike Payne (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); John Catchings (cello); Tim Lauer (piano, Hammond b-3 organ, keyboards, programming); Mark Hill (bass instrument); Matt Payne (drums); Jason Houser, Sam Mizell, Ashley Cleveland, Vicki Hampton, Kim Fleming, Joel West (background vocals); Kenny Greenberg (acoustic guitar, electric guitar); B. James Lowry (acoustic guitar); Chris McHugh, Ken Lewis (drums, percussion); Eric Darken (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Mills Logan.
Recording information: East Iris Studio, Nashville, TN; Hum Depo, Nashville, TN; Ken's Gold Club, Nashville, TN; Quad Studios, Nashville, TN; Studio 917, Nashville, TN; The Sound Kitchen Studios, Nashville, TN.
Photographer: Thomas Petillo.
History boasts a groovy acoustic funk sound that lands Matthew West in between the likes of Jason Mraz, Gavin DeGraw, and Jack Johnson. The title refers to a headlong look back at his life so far (28 may seem a bit young to begin examining one's life so closely, yet he seems to draw a surprisingly large amount of energy from such reflection). It works well as a concept album that examines (surprise!) his past, present, and future. Style-wise, it bounces back and forth from soul to rock to even grassroots gospel. West walks down a time line in which he recalls his first believing moment ("Next Thing You Know"), his search for eternal love ("The Day Before You"), an affirmation of God's presence during a period of doubt ("I Know You're There"), and other watershed moments of spirituality. At its best, it is a transparent beam of light into the soul of a talented songwriter. At times, however, it is a memory piece with lyrics so personal that it offers little in the way of singalong choruses or radio-friendly pop hooks. Still, the message gets across that everyone has equally poignant and personal moments as these. Upon listening, one can't help but start brainstorming his or her own version of History in hopes of recalling similarly treasured memories. ~ Jared Johnson