Reviewed by Paul Keeble
Singer, songwriter and children's story writer Peterson has been writing and singing songs for 20 years. This compilation is my first hearing of or about him and I would recommend it as an introduction to an excellent artist. The basic album has 18 tracks, one of which - the title track - is new, and several others have been re-recorded. There are two bonus songs included on the 20-track download version. As we have grown to expect from across the big pond, and particularly coming out of Nashville, the music is well produced, recorded and played. Andrew's voice is more folk/country than rock (though most of the arrangements are more the latter) but the laid-back style suits the songs - think Jackson Browne. What particularly got my attention are the lyrical themes: there is much here about the struggles and difficulties of life, personal frailties, the love, faithfulness and mystery of God and longing for home. This is way beyond the often-shallow or one-dimensional songs I hear so much on "worship" albums. It is so refreshing to see a Christian artist tackle questions that seem to get mostly left to atheists (eg, Randy Newman in "God's Song" and recently, Stephen Fry) despite the precedent of no less than the book of Psalms. "It's enough to drive a man crazy/It'll break a man's faith/It's enough to make him wonder/If he's ever been saved/When he's bleeding for comfort/From thy staff and thy rod/And the heavens only answer/With the silence of God" ('The Silence Of God'). But despite this and other deep and honest songs this is not a "down" album, but actually one of hope and encouragement. On his website Andrew writes: "A song can help you to feel loved, less alone, more awake. What other art can change your life in four minutes?" Most of the songs here fit that criteria, but an exception in terms of length is the epic "Don't You Want To Thank Someone", here in a 7:48 'Radio Edit' (the original on 'Light For The Lost Boy' weighs in at just under 10 minutes). This begins as a song about appreciating beauty in the face of all that is wrong in the world ("But when you see the morning sun/Burning through a silver mist/Don't you want to thank someone/Don't you want to thank someone for this?") but builds through an amazing coda into a song of expectation of the Second Coming and the groaning of creation. This is not background music. If you want to explore, deepen and reflect on faith in a God of love in a world and life that so often seems to contradict that very idea, get this album, plug in some headphones and listen closely.
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|Over the last 14 years Andrew Peterson has quietly carved out a niche for himself as one of the most thoughtful, poetic and lyrical songwriters of his generation. Over those years Andrew's songs remind us again and again of simple, solid things like love and friendship and hope and redemption and beauty and how our stories were meant to be shared and how the darkness will not always hold sway and how we, being human, need to hear those things over and over again because otherwise we become disconnected from the very stories we're living in.|
All of which brings us to After All These Years, Andrew Peterson's 18-song best-of project, which reminds us of all the reasons Andrew Peterson has been called one of the best songwriters in Christian music.