Release Date: October 9th 2015
Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre
- The Dark Before the Dawn
- Every Star is a Burning Flame
- We Will Survive
- My One Safe Place
- The Rain Keeps Falling (feat. Ellie Holcomb)
- I Want to Say Sorry
- Be Kind to Yourself
- The Power of a Great Affection
- The Sower’s Song
Andrew Peterson needs no introduction. Even though I personally have only listened to Light for the Lost Boy (as well as his best-of After All These Years project) fully from start to finish (which reminds me, I need to listen to Andrew’s discography soon), I have since appreciated Andrew’s lyrical and musical style, as I am reminded of the quality, emotion and heart the still exists in Christian music. Andrew is quite possibly one of the most emotive, heartfelt, enjoyable and deep lyricists of today, in both the Christian and mainstream music circles. In a league of other singer/songwriter artists like Steven Curtis Chapman, Jason Gray, Josh Wilson, Sara Groves and Nichole Nordeman; Andrew’s ability to infuse together poetry with song and music is nothing short of magnificent and remarkable. Since releasing his best of collection of 20 tracks of newly recorded material, as well as re-recordings and fan favourites late last year, I have been listening to more and more of Andrew’s material. While I still have a way to go, I must say this- Andrew is by far one of this generations much needed songwriters. And this is certainly true as he releases his new album The Burning Edge of Dawn in October 2015. With a career spanning more than 10 years, Andrew’s skill as both a musician and a children’s fantasy book author is certainly going to influence and change lives both now and into the future. Andrew’s skill is unparalleled within the music industry, and with songs like “Be Kind to Yourself”, his first single that speaks about us dealing with issues within ourselves as we often realise that the battle is within ourselves rather than with other people, and “Rejoice”, a musically layered worshipful song about us giving thanks to God in whatever moment and situation we find ourselves in; The Burning Edge of Dawn is certain to receive more and more spins on my iTunes for months to come!
While The Light For the Lost Boy is probably by far my favourite album by Andrew thus far, not because it has more poignant or enjoyable material (in fact, The Burning Edge of Dawn is a step up lyrically and musically), but rather it was the first album that was introduced to such a great lyricist and musical genius; The Burning Edge of Dawn continues where his previous album finishes. “Be Kind to Yourself”, a 2:45 track, is as short as many Andrew Peterson songs are, but the song can be just as poignant, and maybe even more so, than some of his longer songs. In fact, “Be Kind to Yourself” is just as heartfelt as “Don’t You Want to Thank Someone”, a song that is arguably the longest I’ve heard from Andrew so far. With light electric guitar riffs and a strong piano presence, the central theme of the track is in fact that- to be kind to yourself and love ourselves as God sees us. Once we are kind to ourselves, and know that we are who we are for a reason, and that our uniqueness ought to be celebrated and honoured because ‘…your Father knows best, I love you just the way that you are, I love the way He’s shaping your heart…’ “Be Kind to Yourself” is sobering, as we know that it is when we are at peace with ourselves and where we’re at on this journey called life that we can truly see things from other people’s perspective, that we can truly empathise with others and see things from other people’s point of view. This song is a necessary one to record and hear, and one that in spite of its short length, will be a track that’ll be possibly one of the most powerful The Burning Edge of Dawn has produced. Well done Andrew for such a song of self-discovery and realisation!
“My One Safe Place” can be taken two ways- as a ballad sung to a loved one, declaring that they are our one safe place we hide away in as we navigate life with and alongside the ones we love, or as a love letter declaration to God, allowing Him to take the ultimate safe place in our hearts. Both ways are just as poignant and emotive to comprehend and fathom, and I’m sure both ways will impact listeners at different times. What this song, and I’m sure others as well, has the ability to do is to bring in the seeker, rather than alienate them, with lyrics that are seeker sensitive. While there are lines in this song alone that alludes to Andrew pouring his heart towards God, the general feel of the track isn’t as intrusive as other vertical worship songs are. With a calm and serene atmosphere, full of eclectic acoustics and Andrew’s ethereal vocal moments, we witness an anthem being borne, out of the words of how ‘…I believe in the love of the Father and I believe in the power of grace, I believe that He brought us together and you are my one safe place…’
“Every Star is a Burning Flame” is a message full of metaphors and lyrical layers, but at the core of the song is a simple message of how we long to burn bright like the stars in the night, the stars that proclaim the praises of the Lord whenever they shine so bright; while “We Will Survive” is a song of assurance, a song not necessarily sung to our Father but sung to our friends, as we long for the phrase ‘we will survive’ in a life full of navigations, back-tracks and detours. We all need assurance, and this song is just a lyrical manifestation of what we’re all thinking- ‘…tell me the story I still need to hear, tell me we’re gonna make it out alive again, I need to know there’s nothing left to fear, there’s nothing left to hide, so will you look me in the eye and say we will survive…’ “The Dark Before the Dawn” is full of imagery and lyrical motifs that possibly the only person to immensely appreciate is one who has undertaken Extension 2 English, yet what this song brings to us is a sense of clarity and hope- that light always comes after the darkest times, and that whatever we’re feeling currently is transient. As Andrew brings forth a song that’ll have a similar impact to other coming-of-age songs like “You’ll Find Your Way” and “Carry the Fire”, “The Dark Before the Dawn” brings with it perspective and a sense of comfort, knowing that the King of the universe ought not to purposely allow the darkness to continue longer than it should.
Honesty overflows in “The Rain Keeps Falling”, a song full of vulnerability as we hear Andrew long for healing and hope, yet not realising change occurring in his life at the time frame he wants, how he’s ‘…so tired of this game, of these songs, of the rote, I’m already ashamed of the line I just wrote, but it’s true and it feels like I can’t sing a note, and the rain keeps falling down…’, and is a great melody as Ellie Holcomb lends her vocals in this emotive and powerful duet, while “Rejoice” impales to us a theme of how we have to make an active and conscious choice, choosing to rejoice in the midst of our trials. With mandolins, hammered dulcimer’s and acoustic guitars to create an airy earthy atmosphere full of light rather than heavy emotion, this is a song to be enjoyed by those who need a reminder on a regular basis to rejoice over their situations instead of pointing the finger to blame. “I Want to Say Sorry” is a letter from Andrew to someone else who he has personally wronged (my interpretation) as Andrew longs to say ‘I’m sorry’, yet still knowing that saying the word is just the beginning, that redemption ought to be a lifetime of showing the other person rather than just the words.
“The Power of Great Affection” and “The Sower’s Song” round out the track list of 10, each of them giving us reason to praise and worship our King. “The Power of Great Affection” is as worshipful a song as Andrew has ever recorded. With a powerful drum beat, string instruments and Andrew’s earnest declaration of how ‘…I’ve been seized by the power of a great affection…now this is the theme of my song, now I will forgive as I’m forgiven, and even when the shadows are long, I will sing about the Son that’s risen…’ Andrew has given us a song that rivals “Don’t You Want to Thank Someone” as my favourite track of his ever. “The Sowers Song” employs riveting piano riffs as Andrew sings poignancy in the words of how he longs for God to abide in him, for his life to showcase the love of Christ, and for everything he does to point towards our Father in heaven. A great way to end the album full of meaning and hope, “The Sower’s Song” and “The Power of Great Affection” are some of the best songs Andrew has written ever. Well done Andrew for such honesty and comfort, while also delivering some of the most confronting lyrical moments since songs like Newsboys’s “Guilty” and Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Warrior”.
Encapsulating everything that I could and can say about Andrew Peterson and his music into a review wouldn’t do Andrew or his music justice- it’s too good. One of the most underrated music artists in history since Rich Mullins during the 1990s, Andrew’s unique ability to speak powerful truths and present them in a way that is reflective but hard-hitting is a gift. Andrew’s follow-up to his greatest hits project is nothing less of magnificent. The Burning Edge of Dawn if listened to in October instead of December, would’ve been included in my best-of albums list when the list was uploaded in November. Nevertheless, this is an album worthy to be purchased if you enjoy anything of Andrew’s previous work, or if you enjoy music in general. Any fan of artists like Nichole Nordeman, Steven Curtis Chapman, Bebo Norman or Jason Gray will love Andrew and his music. One of today’s most inspiring lyricists I’ve listened to in my own life so far, Andrew ought to be commended in continuing to create such inspiring and uplifting music, thereby giving hope that a sea of Christian music artists still has some artists that write poignant music yet!
4 songs to listen to: The Sower’s Song, The Power of a Great Affection, Be Kind to Yourself, We Will Survive
RIYL: Josh Wilson, Nichole Nordeman, Bebo Norman, Rich Mullins, Jason Gray, Steven Curtis Chapman