The World Is Waking
UNSPOKEN is an ironic name for a band called to share God’s message through words and song. But to understand the meaning behind the name is to comprehend the complexities of these four men and their deep desire to express a faith that is tested, proven, and genuine.
Lead singer Chad Mattson explains, “We have two desires. First, we want our lives to be unspoken testimonies to God’s love and power. But we realize, also, the need to speak what oftentimes goes unspoken.” In these paired desires are born songs of hope that go beyond the gentle platitudes that so often sound good on the surface but fail in the trial.
Following the broad radio success of their last single Who You Are (Top 10 NCA and AC Charts), it would be easy for Mattson and company to sing songs of good fortune and happiness. Instead, their new EP The World is Waking takes on real life with a knowing eye toward what is easier said than done. Sweeping anthem In Your Hands is a prime example. “There is a moment when you’re in God’s presence where you feel safe enough and peaceful enough to leave whatever it is in God’s hands,” Mattson says. “But eventually, you’re going to go back out of the church doors, back out of your prayer time, and you’re going to be hit with reality.” It is in that place that the song subtly speaks an important truth: we are incapable of just turning every burden over to God unless we are first in His presence.
“We have this desire to want to control,” Mattson continues. “This is a song for me about relinquishing control to God. It really takes work, that’s the big thing. That quiet time, that time spent with the Lord when we really do feel peaceful and at rest.” The thought is beautifully expressed in the song’s lyric: The world is waking and I am here to meet you on my knees / When I’m with you my soul finds rest / Cause I can leave it in your hands.
Mattson knows well both the life-changing power of the gospel and the life-giving need for daily renewal. Unspoken was born out of a valley in his life, following a period of addiction to drugs and alcohol. He found freedom during a mission trip to the Dominican Republic, where he also met guitarist Mike Gomez. Mattson had always been more of a basketball player than a musician, but he discovered a nascent talent and an unexpected voice as the two began writing songs together. With the addition of a friend from home, bass player Jon Lowry, and highly acclaimed drummer Ariel Munoz from Puerto Rico, Unspoken was complete. For Mattson, the journey helped reveal the importance of perseverance in his walk of faith. It’s this hard-won realization of the need for daily discipline that guides The World is Waking.
“Every day, the world wakes to a new opportunity to forget what is behind and move forward. God’s mercies are new every morning. All of us are working to try to find peace. The older I get, I just want peace for my soul and my heart and my brain on a day-to-day basis. You can’t buy it. Success can’t bring it. It’s just resting in the Lord. The main focus must be taking the day as what it is, as an opportunity to draw closer to God, to love him and others.”
Mattson’s past informs Walking Away, and lyrics like these: I’m walking away from my trouble / Walking away on the double / Cutting the ties / Leaving behind the old life. The song opens with a jaunty piano line and homage to the Preacher in Ecclesiastes, who has everything he’s ever wanted in his grasp but finds it’s all worthless. The theme continues in Lift My Life Up, the powerful opener co-written with producer Seth Mosley and Jason Ingram. The song spans Mattson’s impressive vocal range and the band’s desire for surrender in times of peace and in times of fire. Listen for quotes from some wonderful old hymns, too: Take My Life and Let It Be, It Is Well with My Soul.
Everything is a powerful declaration of dependency on God. These are soul-meets-grit vocals over driving strings and electric guitar. The song’s title is a reference to a verse in Matthew 6 that Mattson likes to quote from the New Living Translation: Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Mattson concludes from that truth, “Make God your primary concern and live righteously. I don’t know what’s going to come of my family or my career, and I’m certainly not going to figure it out today, but I know that if I give my life and surrender this day, I will be setting myself up to have peace and not anxiety, because I’m not worrying about tomorrow, I’m trusting God today.”
Ultimately, we need daily discipline to stay close to God, because we are unsteady while He is unchanging, a concept cleverly expressed in Bury the Workman. “We were in a church service,” Lowry recalls, “when the pastor said this quote, ‘Bury the workman, but the work will go on.’ It reminds me of Mark 13:31, which says heaven and earth will pass away but his word will remain forever.” The idea became a potent blues song that chronicles the work of Stephen, James, Peter, and ultimately Jesus, and the eternity of God. When the band didn’t feel like their production of the track was fully expressing the roots of the song, they decided to gather around a mic in the studio and record it live, all together. What you hear is that raw session, with all its handclaps and harmonica wails. “It’s kind of like an anthem for the church,” Lowry notes, “as being part of something that’s bigger than ourselves. Death can’t stop it. It goes on whether or not we are there to do it, or someone else. Triumph in life, and triumph in death.”
It’s really quite fitting that the EP ends with a raucous, live track, reflecting not only the band’s multicultural musical influences but, more importantly, their desire to speak to the church the truths that often go unspoken: that we must focus first on our daily relationship with God before so many of the promises we hear will make sense. The world is waking to a new day and a new opportunity, and Unspoken is right there with us, ready to live it.