Music Review: Light for the Lost Boy by Andrew Peterson

29 Aug

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?

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7 Responses to “Music Review: Light for the Lost Boy by Andrew Peterson”

  1. Chris Wyatt August 29, 2012 at 11:35 AM #

    Amy, I got to see Andrew Saturday night, and got the album there. He sang some of the songs and talked about them, and it was just an amazing night. His insights and stories really helped to unleash the magic in the songs. And funny you should mention it: he closed by covering Rich Mullins’ “If I Stand”. I first saw Andrew when he was a young guy touring and promoting his first EP. He remains my favorite artist and lyricist. He sings from places most of us have been and helps us to walk through the dark places without lingering too long. He doesn’t shy away from the the dark places of the soul, but he always points out the light that persistently invades it.

  2. Amy August 29, 2012 at 11:44 AM #

    Chris, thank you so much for sharing this! “If I Stand” is my FAVORITE Rich Mullins song. When I was a teen a man sang it in church, and I HAD to know who sang it. Fortunately, my dad bought had the Rich Mullins’ SONGS CD. I permanently borrowed that CD and listened to the song hundreds of times. Rich Mullins was the first Christian I ever hear say, “IF I STAND, IF I FALL…” I couldn’t believe it…we could FALL on God’s grace. It just seemed too good to be true, and yet it was. I grew up in the church and I never knew this sort of goodness from God before. I thought it was possible of Jesus, but God, well, He was just scary. Rich Mullins taught me about the tenderness of God and the ferocity with which God loves us. I would LOVE to see Andrew Peterson in concert, especially the last tour with SCC and my buddy, Josh Wilson. (SCC was my first concert, by the way!) Have you read THE WINGFEATHER SAGA? I have all the books, the first one is peeking out at me. I’ve just been swamped, but sometimes it’s good to escape. Andrew Peterson has definitely become one of my faves. I hope he read this review, not because I think I’m so great…just because I want him to know the impact his music has had on me, to be encouraged by sharing his story with others. 🙂 SHARPTOOTH BARNEYS FOREVER! 😉

  3. Chris Wyatt August 29, 2012 at 12:01 PM #

    You know, Andrew said that it was that song that really helped to transform his walk with Christ and to understand the grace and love of God as well as the fear of him. Every time I listen to Andrew I feel eerily like he has been reading my life story and all of my struggles and writing responses to them. I got to sit from row and meet Andrew and Ben Shive and Andy Gullahorn, and I’m happy to report that they are all as genuine and unassuming as they seem. None of the “music star” attitude about them. And I love them all the more for that. They were very accessible and willing to open up and talk. SCC is the same kind of guy. My wife and I got to meet him once, and he was just the most humble, genuine guy. I don’t think there’s a better compliment. I have read the wingfeather saga, and am longing for more. It’s great stuff. You can really see the growth as a novelist from book to book. And if you have not read his brother’s books, you really should check them out to. The Fiddler’s Gun and The Fiddler’s Green. Both outstanding books. It’s ridiculous to have that much talent in one family and to be so normal about it all. It’s my goal to go to one of the Rabbit Room Hutchmoot sessions.

  4. Amy August 29, 2012 at 12:05 PM #

    I want to go to Hutchmoot, too! We should go at the same time and bail out to go to a Derek Webb concert…just kidding! We could probably see Jason Gray play AT the concert. My friend has been to Hutchmoot and she says that it’s amazing. I have Fiddler’s Gun on my Kindle, and again, so much to read, so little time. I have given up buying books, but not I want to read the ones that Andrew mentioned. I did get to hang with Jason Gray and Jason G from downhere…and they were both AWESOME. I think you can’t go wrong with The Rabbit Room group (Melanie Penn–love her!) or Centricity artists. I would like to listen to more Ben Shive and Andy Gullahorn actually. I remember that you and Robin met SCC when you were in the process of adopting Noah!

  5. Deb August 29, 2012 at 11:55 PM #

    Awww, thanks for the shout out, Amy! I also hear a lot of Rich Mullins in this album. It’s superb and your review is fabulous! Now I have to go watch those videos and read the liner notes. 🙂

  6. JR October 1, 2012 at 4:57 PM #

    Well, I sure am glad that I’m not the only one that likes “Cornerstone”! I kept reading all sorts of reviews that blew it off and thought that I must be missing something (which seemed unfathomable, as I’ve been an AP fan for years–not that I never find new tid bits each time I listen…). I like AP’s folksy quiet stuff–I’ll forever love “Canaan Bound”, but I’m thrilled that he’s rocking out a bit more….life on earth is not all contemplative moments pondering the grandeur of God. Sometimes it’s gritty determination in the fight and tenacious loyalty to the King.

  7. Peter January 2, 2013 at 10:52 PM #

    Hi Folks, I am from Oz and listening to Andrew for the first time ever and I wanted to see reviews. I must say there is a beautiful spirit to this page. It has brought tears to my eyes. I am alreay enjoying this album and know it will be a standard for years to come. Thank you for taking the time to share – all of you.

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