Sometimes it’s a couple of days or even weeks before I dig through the pre-releases in my “to be reviewed” pile to find the right mood music. However, in the case of Andrew Peterson’s latest, Light for the Lost Boy, I gave a giddy shout and popped the album in my vehicle’s CD player as soon as I ran out the door minutes after checking my mail. As the strings of the first song on the album flirted with my ears, I let out a gentle sigh and tried to relax. But Andrew Peterson is one of the few artists whose musical proficiency and stunning use of lyric touch me on a level too deep to explain. It’s hard to relax when my soul is so thirsty for the refreshing touch that Peterson’s music can provide it.
Counting Stars, Peterson’s previous album, was my introduction to this artist’s body of work, which not only includes an impressive line of music, but books and a website called The Rabbit Room as well. Truly a visionary, Peterson is one of those creative I’d love to sit down with for a chai latte to talk music, literature, writing, and theology. I’m sure the conversation would be nothing short of fascinating.
Therefore, my expectations for Light for the Lost Boy were very high, and I feared I would be let down. Lost Boy certainly rises to the occasion with 10 beautiful tracks, each one as delectable as the next, though I have my favorites. I purposely didn’t read the press release accompanying the pre-release, any early reviews, or even Peterson’s thoughts on the album because I wanted to present pure and personal thoughts on this my review of Lost Boy.
To me, Light for the Lost Boy, is a double entendre. The light is not only for the lost “boy,” who is Peterson himself (or perhaps his children), but it is also light for a lost world. The album repeats the message, “Yes, this word is cursed and it hurts, but God is with you. Hope is ever near you, beside you. And there is a reality that is so much stronger than all that you see and think you know.” The album continually echoes the thought of one of my most beloved Bible verses found in Revelation 21:5, “He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’”
So I wasn’t too far off…
My early favorite on this album was “Rest Easy,” which Andrew Peterson promoted through a contest, in which fans were invited to make a music video for this song (see winner). Spoken from the voice of Jesus (like a music version of the devotional Jesus Calling), the song starts out with the lyrics, “You are not alone/I will always be with you.” I was immediately drawn in. All humanity feels alone, and this song speaks from God’s heart directly to that persistent aloneness, that ever-present separation from God that won’t be eradicated until see finally see Him face to face.
Yesterday, I listened to this song over and over again, letting the words soak into my trembling, sweaty body, for I needed the lyrics to speak to my heart, “You don’t have to prove yourself/You’re already mine/ You don’t have to have to hide your heart/I hold it in Mine/You can rest easy.” How I long to rest easy! I appreciate the ability of a song to help me settle down so I can open myself to God’s peace that surpasses all understanding.
Energy flows through another one of my early and consistent favorites, “Day By Day.” From the first beat, the listener is propelled into an adventure of searching with child-like faith and a reminder that we are truly “children of eternity” who are fighting the curse of death. (Lyric: “Children of eternity, on the run from entropy.” Ahh! Peterson’s use of language gives me chills!) This song gives a nod to fleeting youth, but reminds listeners of the promise of eternity. Referencing 2 Corinthians 4:16, Peterson sings, “Don’t lose heart, though your body’s wasting away/ Your soul is not, it’s being remade/Day by day by day.” It’s so hard to explain how much this soul touches me. It gives me hope as I watch a dear friend’s earthly body revolt against her, yet her faith is strong and her soul is ageless. This song is for her, for all of us.
“Shine Your Light On Me” seems to be a biographical song about how God’s light shown into Peterson’s life when he was devastated, sick, and in the sloe of despair. He talks about how he “drove into darkness” and “could hear the flapping wings of every devil” he has known. This is a place I’ve been many times, and the same light that invaded Peterson’s car, floods me as well. Again, this is another song which I have difficulty describing, yet I know the place from which Peterson writes. It’s dark, scary, lonely, and almost hopeless. The light of God’s grace shines into that darkness time and again, each time more beautiful than the last. It’s these little glimpses of eternity that keep us going in our struggles.
A Facebook friend mentioned that “Cornerstone” was one of her favorite songs on Lost Boy. The first few times I heard this song I liked the message pulled from John 6. I found the music “hard”—more electric guitar and less easy acoustic. That’s why albums must have multiple listens because this song has drawn me in. With lyrics like, “You look me in the eyes and fix me with a permanent stare,” how can this song not be amazing? This is one of the most profoundly Scriptural songs on the album, like it was ripped directly from the Gospels.
Wow! Andrew explains these songs so beautifully. Maybe I should’ve watched these earlier.
Then there’s “Carry the Fire,” which offers promises of what is to come in a place “where joy writes the songs and the innocent sing them” as well as the first track on the album, “Come Back Soon.” To be perfectly honest, this song is an enigma to me, though the mystery becomes clearer with every listen. I will most certainly read Peterson’s thoughts on the song, though it seems like a good summation of the album echoing, “We groan in this great darkness for deliverance/Deliver us, O Lord.”
This is the longest album review I’ve ever written in my 16 years of “music journalism” (hey, I could those clumsy days as a teenager with a ‘zine!) Peterson’s music evokes one of my early faves, Rich Mullins, whose honest lyrics shaped my faith as a teenager (and in many ways, still do shape my faith). Peterson, a great admirer of Mullins’ work, carries on his legacy. Yet Andrew Peterson is very much his own artist, achieving a depth rarely seen but sorely needed. While there are many catch lines I could insert telling you that you should buy Light for the Lost Boy, I won’t bow to cliché endings. Andrew Peterson certainly wouldn’t. Give this album one listen, and you’ll see what I mean. But, of course, you’ll want to buy it first because one listen simply won’t suffice.
Let’s chat! Leave a comment below! What do you think of Andrew Peterson’s new album? What’s your fave song and why? If you haven’t heard it, did I convince you that you NEED to listen to it? Do you like how Andrew explains his songs? Is this the longest music review you’ve ever read?