I must confess, when I was first introduced to Andrew Peterson's music a little over four years ago, I was not a fan. Being a rock-n-roll lover at heart, I had little interest in what I perceived to be "boring folk music." However, after listening to his first two albums multiple times and experiencing his live performance, I began to understand and appreciate his art. The music slowly crept its way into my heart and I have been a fan ever since.
When attempting to describe Peterson's music, the word "honest" comes to mind. The combination of his unique voice and his simplistic yet poignant lyrics creates songs to which almost anyone can relate. Peterson's latest project, The Far Country, continues his tradition of using folk-style music and word pictures to weave together the sacred and the secular.
The opening title track "The Far Country" adds some rock elements to Peterson's usual musical style which is a nice surprise. The song also introduces the theme of the album, longing for Heaven, a "far country." The following track, "Lay Me Down," offers an optimistic picture of life and death from the viewpoint of a Christian. "Queen of Iowa" tells a story of a suffering woman who "with all of the things she was dying of, she was more alive than the others." Peterson's smooth vocals and infectious chorus make the track come alive, offering hope and encouragement to suffering Christians. "Little Boy Heart Alive," inspired by Peterson's experiences with his own children, reminds listeners of what it is like to have faith like a child. "The Havens Grey" and "Mystery of Mercy" take on a more serious tone while still offering hope to those who know Christ.
An album by Andrew Peterson would not be complete without a song mentioning mountains. The seventh track, "Mountains on the Ocean Floor," does just that. The song is subdued and thoughtful, as is the following track, "All Shall Be Well." "For the Love of God" is a song Peterson wrote for a friend's wedding. It is a beautiful song that addresses earthly marriage as well as the spiritual marriage between Christ and the Church. The album ends with "More," a quiet reminder that followers of Christ have more to look forward to than life on earth.
The Far Country is another strong offering from Andrew Peterson that will not disappoint fans. Musically, the album does not stray far from Peterson's usual mixture of folk, country, blues and hints of rock-n-roll. However, it is still fresh and relevant. Peterson's songwriting skills are some of the best in the business, and his voice has its own unique sound. The entire album conveys a deep sense of longing for things that are not of this world. Overall, the songs are not as upbeat as songs from earlier albums, yet this is not a weakness. The album has a sense of urgency and encourages followers of Christ to stand strong and not give up hope.
Peterson's albums are like old friends. They invite you to sit back on the porch and sip some tea (or in my case, Dr. Pepper) and listen in as Peterson reflects on earthly life and the life to come. Fans are sure to embrace The Far Country, and I challenge skeptics to give Peterson a few listens before dismissing his music as "boring folk music." Peterson's songs may have a folk sound, but they are anything but boring.- Review date: 8/15/05, written by Laura Nunnery
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