Prime Cuts: I Give Up, Holy, You Cannot Be Stopped
Overall Grade: 4/5
Laura Story falls into the same fallacious trapping as most singer-songwriters. In 2011, Story had a #1 hit "Blessings" which has become not only her first and only #1, but has also become her signature tune. The plaintive ballad doesn't wink at the disconsolateness of sufferings. Rather, with all her emotions laid out at the fore, Story takes refuge in the Scriptural truth that sufferings may be God's blessings in disguise. The song is deservingly one of the best treatises on sufferings this side of William Cowper. Precisely because "Blessings" is such a gargantuan success, Story doesn't send to be able to move away from the song's shadows. Many of the songs on her latest EP "I Give Up" still has silhouettes of the song's chord progressions and riffs.
On her brand new 5-song EP, the title track "I Give Up" is the this outing's "Blessings." However, with some sonic echoing aside, the song "I Give Up" is meritorious enough to stand on its own. Just as the song "Blessings" gives a fresh Biblical twist back to often hijacked word "blessings," "I Give Up" does it to the word "faith." Faith, according to Story, is to surrender to God. And it's in surrendering we begin "to know the fullness of my Father's heart." The song not only is a theological trove but it has a way of getting right into our hearts in moving ways; this is indeed a song that bears repeated mediations.
Story has been associated so much as a piano balladeer that we forget that she excels in the more propulsive numbers too. With bright shiny beat and an infectious upbeat tune, Story sets Isaiah 6 to irresistible worship music in "Holy." Story then adds her piano flourishes to the pop-centric "Not My Life" which could work well a congregational worship tune with its amicable-sounding chorus. Likewise the anthemic chorus of "You Cannot Be Stopped" would be gloriously powerful if sung within a live church setting. Moreover, such a song that exalts the greatness of God has no expiration date.
"Nearness" is perhaps the dud in the mix. This piano ballad again shadows "Blessings" too closely without the magnetic draw of the latter's theology and melody. Nevertheless, "I Give Up" is still a collection worth investing in. Story, at the end of the day, is a class A songwriter. She doesn't just write for the sake of writing. Rather, everything she writes she does have a story worth telling.