Friday, September 28, 2012

Review - Andrew Peterson - Light for the Lost Boy

I probably sound all sappy on this review but I don't care. This album blows me away like a twister in Kansas.

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It’s been a long time since I’ve come across an album like Andrew Peterson’s Light for the Lost Boy. The ten songs enchantingly capture the marvel of childhood, expressed through the melancholy eyes of a father who is watching his children grow up and lose their sense of wonder through the hardships of life. Sadness flirts with joy. Hope mingles with loss.

“Come Back Soon” opens like the dawn, full of hope and apprehensive promise, spouting forth picturesque lyrics of “We awake in the night in the womb of the world / We beat our fists on the door / …. Are we alone in this great darkness?” “The Ballad of Jody Baxter” is quiet, sung in whisper with appropriate rural instruments that accompany this retelling of The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings while the hushed “Shine Your Light On Me” captures a day when Peterson was “sixteen with a broken heart in bloom.” The reassuring “Rest Easy” springs forth with the hopeful line “You are not alone” and builds to a cathartic bridge of “You work so hard to wear yourself down” before providing rest and affirmation. Inspired by a family trip to the Kensington Gardens of Peter Pan fame, almost the entire song of “Day By Day” is a memorable quote. Indulge me a few: “We just can’t get used to being here / Where the ticking clock is loud and clear / Children of eternity / On the run from entropy” and “Everybody’s so surprised / When right before your very eyes / Your baby’s in the second grade / You blink and it’s her wedding day.” Add a gentle rock beat and a sticky melody and you’ve got pure pixie dust! In “You’ll Find Your Way” Peterson writes to his too-quickly growing son “I wanna go with you / But I can’t follow” through life, lamenting “Your first kiss / Your first crush / The first time you know you’re not enough / The first time there’s no one there to hold you.” If this isn’t an apt expression of early teen years then I don’t know what is. The final song, which incorporates an expensive Peter Gabriel influenced sound, explores the topic further with “But every little boy grows up / And he’s haunted by the heart that died.” However, far from being a depressing album, Peterson sprinkles each song with light through a desire for hope through faith.

Too often a band’s lyrics are negligible. Very rarely does an album fire on all cylinders. By focusing so much on the lyrics I don’t intend to downplay the music as it is excellent. Somewhere in between “Americana” and “Roots rock”, these mostly acoustic songs are peppered with a judicial amount of progressive electronic sounds and a dollop of experimental production. Take these away and you still have superb examples of top-notch songwriting. Such music allows expression of things mere words cannot and when the words and music come together, as on Light for the Lost Boy, the result is pure magic.

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