From Fair Trade Services, “Open Hands” was produced by a number of talented producers, including Seth Mosley, Mike “X” O’Connor, Jeff Pardo, Colby Wedgeworth, Hank Bentley, Jeremy Redmon, Craig Swift and Chris Bevins.
Story’s newest project is based on a theme of surrender and letting go. The title track is a perfect example of this: “Our greatest prayer/ Our act of faith is an open hand/ Lord have your way/ Take it all, every hope/ Every dream, every plan….Jesus, I surrender all/ Every victory and loss/ Take it all….’till all I have is open hands.”
Guest artist Mac Powell adds his rich baritone to this particular track, making it all the more poignant. Story elaborates on the theme of the project, saying, “We have this picture all the way through Scriptures of all these great leaders in this process of surrendering everything…. What the Lord asks us is to surrender,.....It’s about learning to live with open hands, learning to live life in this constant state of saying, “Lord, my life is Yours. My time is Yours. My resources are Yours. All of this is Yours. Do what You will.”
An incredibly talented songwriter, Story shared the writing on this project with a number of others. Story collaborates on tracks with Hank Bentley, Sarah Hart, Seth Mosley and others, to name just a few.
She also uses familiar tunes to add to the depth of this album. “For the Love of my King” is a wonderful adaptation of the favourite, “My Jesus, I love Thee.” Story’s refrain sings, “As long as I have breath, until the end of days, I will sing for the love of my King/ Whether in life or death/ My heart will ever praise/ I will sing for the love of my King.”
I love her attitude about depth of that song (and others): “I’m pretty sure that the theology that I learned as a kid was from old hymns. It’s amazing, even now as an adult, how those hymns come back and really provide that sturdy foundation for life.”
Not every beautiful song can be sung in a congregation, but I can see many of the songs from “Open Hands” being used in worship services across North America. “For the Love of My King” and “Extraordinary” are tremendous songs of praise, “Every Word Your Breathe” is an affirmation of the Word of God, and “Grace Abounds” is a heartfelt reminder that God’s grace is present even when we are filled with despair and broken.
Says the artist, “I wanted to make an album so that each song I write would be just that seed of hope or that lifeline that someone listens to during that tough moment and thinks, ‘I’m going to choose to trust God, even during this.’ ”
I think, with “Open Hands”, Laura Story has created a collection of songs that will do just that.
Tracey Evison, a musician and educator on P.E.I., writes this column for The Guardian every second Saturday. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.