CD Review: Open Hands by Laura Story

Laura Story’s Latest: An Outstanding Album about the Beauty of Letting Go

Laura Story - Open Hands - posting sizeOpen Hands

by Laura Story


Release Date: March 3, 2017

Label: Fair Trade Services

Artist Links:

Laura Story’s Website

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Tracks

1. Death Was Arrested

2. Open Hands

3. You Came Running

4. Give You Faith

5. For the Love of My King

6. Awake My Soul (A 1000 Tongues)

7. Whisper

8. Every Word You Breathe

9. Majesty

10. Extraordinary

11. Grace Abounds


My Review

The first thing to catch my attention about Laura Story’s newest project, Open Hands — an album filled with songs she’s written or co-written —  is that she chose to lead off with the one song she didn’t write. I’d like to know the story behind her discovery and adoption of “Death Was Arrested”. Thematically, the focus is on Jesus’ victory over death in His resurrection that followed the crucifixion. His sacrifice as Messiah and Savior gave new meaning to life and death and brings us the freedom to live fully. 

When asked about Open Hands,  songwriter and worship leader Story attests that “worship begins with surrender”. So immediately after establishing our reason for hope with “Death Was Arrested,” she sings of surrender with “Open Hands”. Together with Third Day’s Mac Powell, Story entreats God to “take it all, every  weight, all the shame…take it all, ’til all I have is open hands”. Powell’s voice blends well with Story’s and lends extra depth and interest, taking what starts as an introspective moment and bursting it wide open into mega worship. Together, these two opening songs form a solid base upon which the rest of the album builds.

The only real downside to Open Hands is its brevity — the eleven track album clocks in at just under 43 minutes. On the upside, the album is beautifully produced, thematically tight, and nearly flawlessly sequenced. Quieter instances alternate with big corporate worship singalongs. Even when things get more amplified, Story’s gentle, thoughtful spirit remains. This is particularly evidenced on tracks 5 and 6 where Story refashions classic hymns. On “For the Love of My King,” she revisits “My Jesus, I Love Thee” adding her own chorus. Next, “Awake My Soul (A 1000 Tongues)”, written with Matt Maher, Matt Redman, and Jonas Myrin, borrows the first verse of the Wesley hymn “O’ For a Thousand Tongues,” using Wesley’s words as a launching pad into their own words of praise. The blending of classic and modern is successful in each case, and I’d dare to say that even Charles Wesley himself would approve!

I love the lush yet measured production of “Whisper” where Story’s poignant piano-base is given just enough accompanying bells and whistles to lend the necessary mystery and majesty as her waiting heart listens for the Holy Spirit’s whispered voice. Strong album sequencing continues,  with “Every Word You Breathe” carrying on the message of waiting and trusting. Meanwhile, on “Majesty”, Story has crafted a stunning melody around which to sing of God’s grace.

Just as Open Hands began with two big songs, it closes in similar fashion. “Extraordinary” is a gem of a pop-worship song, and though I usually try to avoid comparisons, here I can’t help but recall Amy Grant at the height of her success. Giving pause to contemplate the pain and suffering with which we are surrounded, the quietly gorgeous “Grace Abounds” will strike a welcome chord with listeners who loved Story’s hit song “Blessings”. As Open Hands comes to a close, the message Story leaves her listener with is this: “When it feels like hope cannot be found, grace abounds.” Now that’s a reason for hope!

— Dawn Teresa

Verdict

4.5 Hearts - CD - DVD

4.5 of 5 Hearts. Laura Story’s Latest: An Outstanding Album about the Beauty of Letting Go.

On Open Hands, Laura Story has written about surrender, faith, and trust, while leaving plenty of space for worship. After all, when we stop holding onto our worries, burdens, and struggles, and approach the Lord with empty hands, He rewards us by filling those open hands with blessings.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing me with a copy of Open Hands in exchange for this review and post.”

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