On first listen, Matt Stell’s “Prayed For You” might not seem like that interesting a track, doling out what feels like yet-another generic Country Pop tune in a world of countless imitators; Nothing quite jumps out at you if you’re just casually listening to it, easily falling in line with its predecessors, interchangeable with any number of somber love songs you’ve heard in the last decade or so – To be clear, it does somewhat fall into that overgeneralized category, but there’s an earnestness in his performance that makes it so much more, following the trends of the music scene he’s involved with but doing so with such passion & drive that you end up focusing on the song’s meaning rather than its production, making for an astonishingly delightful listening experience. The song follows Stell as he describes the serendipitous circumstances which led him to the woman he now considers his partner in life, flabbergasted that he could ever have been so lucky but convinced it was a spiritually-ordained occurrence, the stars aligning in such a way that his lover must’ve been sent from the heavens to guide him on the correct path, a gift for all his perseverance in troubling times. Using incredibly religious iconography, he speaks of how he’s never been the righteous type but finds himself a true believer now that he’s met this woman, lines like “graceful eyes to see me through” & “I kept my faith like that old King James” constantly comparing their meeting to something of faith-based origin as he uses the power of worship to illustrate how perfectly otherworldly his lover is – The strange thing about this narrative is that it’s not initially clear he’s talking about a woman at all, most of the lyrics seeming to indicate that he was a lost soul looking for direction in times of need, never realizing that the guidance he was searching for was the Christian ‘god’ all along, lines like “every single day, before I knew your name, I couldn’t see your face but I prayed for you” easily aligning with Contemporary Christian music storylines rather than expressing romantic intent; Still, it’s a passionate narrative that puts his love on a whole other echelon of greatness many could only hope to exist within, making for a wonderfully charming love song with a religious tinge.
With such a delightfully empowering narrative, it’s almost a shame the underlying instrumentation is so simplistic, but it ends up helping to make the composition more impactful as you simply focus on the storyline without getting distracted by tertiary elements of the song. The basic instrumentation is incredibly straightforward, consisting of airy guitars jamming out an uplifting chord progression, accompanied by a slow-moving yet surprisingly energetic percussion groove banging in an anthemic fashion, forming the basic building blocks of your average Country Pop power ballad with absolute perfectionism, every note & every melodic riff landing exactly where you think it will from beginning to end. Over this, Stell sings in a reverently somber tone, audibly taken aback but the sheer elation he feels inside having been given a chance to experience true love to the fullest extent, his melodies calm & reserved yet just energetic enough to feel passionate, hitting the high notes where it counts to captivating effect; It’s not exactly the most resplendent melodies you’ve ever heard, but it’s a hell of a lot better than Kane Brown’s droning vocals, giving you the sense that he really is overwhelmed with ecstatic adoration as the song goes on – The accompanying music video takes things a step further, literally staging the narrative couple’s first encounter in the pews of a humble church, the female character setting pamphlets on everyone’s seats to prepare for mass whilst the male character tries his best to contribute, finding himself captivated by her charms & wrapped up in conversation with her, the priest constantly reprimanding them for flirting instead of finishing their jobs. It’s a bit on the nose, but it’s at least an entertaining enough production to keep you invested, save for the awkward & incredibly emotionless stage kiss the couple shares at the very end – Nevertheless, “Prayed For You” is a fair entry to the Country Pop machine that gives the more faith-based listeners a nice middle ground between worshipful themes & romantic tension, allowing them to dip their toes into the mainstream realm just a little bit in their daily listening routines.
Matt Stell, Allison Veltz, Ash Bowers
"Prayed for You" is a song by American country music singer Matt Stell. It is his debut single, and it appears on his debut extended play Everywhere but On. Stell co-wrote the song with Ash Bowers, with whom he co-produced it, and Allison Veltz.