Matthew West's independent album Sellout was originally released near the end of his independent career, and then was re-released in 2006 through his record label. It is a well-crafted album with many highlights such as the title track, "This Ordinary Life" and "Be Strong." West recorded it after he had already had much experience with making music, but before he was signed and released hit singles, like "More" and "The Motions."
Sellout bears a style considerably different from West's later projects. Most of the songs are more upbeat, and some of them have more of a gospel feel, sometimes showing signs of folk and rock as well. The album has West's staple storytelling with each song, and speaking to specific groups of people in hard situations. Unlike his newest albums, though, these stories are more joyful and don't address problems as much as they encourage listeners to live a sold out life for Jesus. Matthew West's style on this album isn't quite as refined, either. The tracks experiment with many different styles, sometimes subtly (like the almost talking-style of singing on "Mr. James," and the almost worship-like chorus on "Heart of Every Man"), and other times very prominent (like the gospel choir and sounds on "Love Has No Walls", and the guitar solos on "Just Like You"). The styles aren't neatly packed into his own distinctive style as much as in other Matthew West albums. This does make each track unique and recognizable, though.
The album starts strong, with a very driven, catchy song called "This Ordinary Life." The excitement and interest fade later on, but only slightly, with tracks like "Love Has No Walls" and "Open Wide My Heart." The engaging, enjoyable songs return with "Be Strong" and "Stand." The album ends with a few slower ballads more reminiscent to his current style. The sound of the album is similar enough to West's other albums to not be out of place, but unique enough to be its own project.
Sellout is a worthwhile album and should be considered up there with West's other projects. It contains a number of great songs, and overall is just a good record. While it may not be as appealing as Something to Say or some of West's most popular albums, it is a good record and deserves a place in the collection of songs Matthew West now has under his belt.JFH Reader Review: Review date: 6/3/11, written by Ben Coakley for Jesusfreakhideout.com
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