RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 28, 2012
This album is a story lover’s delight. If words are your weakness and stories your guilty pleasure, you’ll definitely want to savour Andrew Peterson’s Light for the Lost Boy. The album is a carefully crafted work of art; a project you have to immerse yourself in, not a series of tracks to randomly dip in and out of. Peterson has once again showed himself to be a master songsmith; one who completely understands the dynamics between the complementary worlds of music and lyric.
Although the language may be poetic, the themes threading through Light for the Lost Boy are plain- it’s about childhood and innocence, disappointment and hope, death and life. It’s a musical narrative which starts with “Come Back Soon” a sobering look at death through the eyes of a young boy but which triumphantly ends with “Don’t You Want to Thank Someone” a powerful reminder of the promise of redemption. Although Peterson may meander along the way, once home, he drives a point effectively.
Scattered throughout Light for the Lost Boy are literary allusions – hidden references – each adding something important to the fabric of the song. Half the pleasure of listening to the album is drawing together all the pieces and realising the tapestry that Peterson has seamlessly spun. To fully appreciate the “The Ballad of Jody Baxter” you need to understand it is a reference to Majorie Rawling’s The Yearling. The ideology behind “Day by Day” borrows from the idea behind J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. Although I can’t say for sure, it seems that Peterson has been inspired by authors such as Tolkien as he expertly tells a tale of loss of innocence, tragedy and rebirth throughout the album.
Peterson asks “Is there any way that we can/ Change the ending of this tragedy?” (“The Ballad of Jody Baxter”) and remarks “You have never met a single soul/Who didn’t feel the curse’s toll” (Day by Day). In “The Cornerstone” Peterson tackles some of the paradoxes of the Christian faith, the unsearchable mysteries of God’s wisdom. Yet hope remains (Carry the Fire) and life and light prevail. Andrew Peterson ends the album with a good attempt at answering his own question
“Maybe it’s a better thing…
To be more than merely innocent
But to be broken then redeemed by love”
Musically, long standing fans will recognise a change in direction for Peterson. He uses wider instrumentation and chosen a darker, more sombre soundscape to better capture the moods of Light for the Lost Boy. Yet there are glimpses of former days – “Rest Easy” is the most accessible song on the album and here, his package-perfect simple truths (“You don’t have to hide your heart/ I already love you”) beautifully match the lighter tone and feeling of the track. This mood continues in the lullaby that follows. Written for his daughter, “The Voice of Jesus” is a tender song of reassurance.
Whilst I’ve focused more on the lyrical content of Light for the Lost Boy, the music has a life of its own and perfectly sets the scene for the story being told. Andrew Peterson lets the music take as long as it needs to grow into something spectacular; the final track clocks almost 10 minutes. The music is multi-layered, full of surprises and boasts of fabulous string arrangements, magical moments provided by the electric guitar, unique time signatures and captivating harmonies. Even a falsetto makes an appearance! Why am I not surprised? The team around Peterson are exceptional in their own right: Tyler Burkum, Ben Shive, Andy Gullahorn and Cason Cooley to name a few.
Unconventional, eccentric and dramatic – the album remains completely unspoiled by current CCM fads. For those listeners who will take the time to listen to this epic project, Light for the Lost Boy is sure to reward. Andrew Peterson has once again delivered a pioneering album, a timeless project that redefines what music can do, by making us see anew hat Christ has done.