Style: Anthemic, epic power pop; compare to Michael W. Smith, DC Talk, Nichole Nordeman

Top Tracks: "Bend," "I'm with You," "When Love Sees You"

One might find it a challenge to produce a single piece of art encompassing the expansive tale of hope for humanity, from Creation to Christ to the Second Coming. With (Music Inspired By) The Story, Nichole Nordeman and Bernie Herms combine their songwriting and compositional talents to do just that. Nordeman's particular angle spans eighteen tracks and focuses not on the story of Israel, or on the prophecies leading to the birth and resurrection of the Messiah, but rather on the major players of the biblical narrative—Adam & Eve, Abraham & Sarah, Moses, Jesus, Paul, and more. Together with an acclaimed cast of CCM artists and lush orchestration provided by the London Strings, Nordeman and Herms dive in from a first-person perspective with a goal to connect listeners with some of the very first followers of Christ.

The Story begins with an overture that defines the symphonic structure of the album, every track existing as a movement in part of a bigger whole. More specifically, The Story is something like a soundtrack, strikingly reminiscent of Hans Zimmer's work in Inception. So while this collection of anthemic, cinematic pop songs feels a bit unoriginal, it functions effectively, introducing major musical themes with evocative strings, compelling rhythmic drive, and magnificent brass lines.(And practically speaking, it is a soundtrack; the album is is part of an ambitious project based on a series of books—The Story Bible from Zondervan, The Heart of the Story by Randy Frazee, and God's Story, Your Story by Max Lucado.)

Given the blatant narrative theme, more musical contrast would have given the album's structure some polish in terms of climax and rising and falling action. But it is exactly this lack of contrast that creates a cinematic feel; a companion DVD features videos shot all over Europe and Africa to best communicate each character, adding depth to an album that feels too epic on its own.

In "When Love Sees You," Jesus says, "tell me your stories," illustrating in four words the album's most important concept. Each character tells their unique story, and each listener will likely find a few to whom they relate. Nordeman's songwriting is top-notch, as she handles her storytelling delicately, expounding enough to give dimension without embellishing to fit an agenda. Human struggle with feelings of entitlement, questions of destiny, hope in God's promises, and the desire to be part of a meaningful framework make these characters accessible even to listeners unfamiliar with the stories.

'(Music Inspired By) The Story'
Our Rating
4 Stars - Excellent
Average Rating
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Release Date
September 27, 2011
EMI Christian Music Group/Provident/Word
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