Three years ago, singer/songwriter Andrew Peterson released one of this reviewer’s all time favourite records, Light for the Lost Boy. Its concept of loss and longing, of fallen innocence and desperate redemption, still resonate with me to this very day, and has only gotten better and stronger over time. Now three years later, shortly after completing his series of fantasy novels, The Windfather Sega, Andrew has returned with another ten songs of musical brilliance and deeply rich lyricism with The Burning Edge of Dawn.
Thematically, this is the perfect follow-up for Lost Boy, taking a look at life’s struggles and despairs, and realizing God’s redemptive plan. “This album is the result of looking hard at a lot of painful stuff and arriving at the conclusion that when God the gardener tears open the earth, he’s doing it in order to bring about something beautiful. If you want the joy of the harvest, you first have to plant the seeds; and anyone who’s planted seeds knows that the soil must be torn open. That’s how joy works. I know that now,” says Andrew Peterson on the new record.
The opener, “The Dark Before the Dawn,” is a faith filled look at the coming glory of Christ amidst the brokenness of this world, Oh, I believe, I believe that the victory is sealed. The serpent struck but it was crushed beneath His heel. Featuring a piano line that’d make anyone see joy in the dark, this is one of the best openers to an album this year.
A main factor that made Lost Boy the masterpiece it was, even compared to his other works, is the epic, yet melancholy atmosphere it brought. You could feel the hopelessness and desperation in “Come Back Soon,” and, “Shine Your Light on Me.” However, instead of furthering the same style with this record, Andrew returns to his gentler folk roots, while adding slight atmospheric touches here and there. At first, this was admittedly a little disappointing, but further listens slowly revealed more depth than what first impressions offered.
One of the first tracks to be released, “One Safe Place,” is as good as love songs go, and could easily fit into the concept of Lost Boy. Through the struggling, Andrew looks to his wife as the only person he feels safe with as he lovingly tells her, You’re my oasis, the eye of the hurricane, one look at your face is, all I need to remember my name. So I run away home, yes, I run away home to you. One of the more heartbreaking songs, “The Rain Keeps Falling,” pairs the darkness of self-doubt and exhaustion with the constant pour of the rain. I tried to be brave but I hid in the dark, I sat in that cave, and I prayed for a spark, to light up all the pain that remained in my heart, and the rain kept falling. In the midst of the rain, singer Ellie Holcomb speaks as the voice of God, Peace, be still. It’s a major high mark on an album full of encouraging moments, and the metaphor of the seed is one of the greatest lyrics I’ve heard all year.
There’s a profound touch on about every song on The Burning Edge…., but one of my favourites would have to be from track seven, “I Want To Say I’m Sorry.” Andrew sings to a hurt friend, Well, I want to say I’m sorry but it’s not enough, to close the wounds I opened up. So now I’ve got this sorrow and you’ve got that hurt, and we can’t go back to who we were. Oh, but could that mean I’m someone new, maybe I can love you better than I failed to do. When simple words aren’t enough, Maybe now the only way to find some peace, is just to give it time and trust in grace.
And the rich poetry continues throughout, from the loving assurance of worth from Andrew to his children in, “Be Kind to Yourself,” to seeing our lives as a field to plow in the epic closer, “The Sower’s Song,” there’s enough to keep one listening and thinking for a long time to come.
Overall, I couldn’t be happier with Andrew’s newest release. It’s so sad see his albums continually underrated in the CCM industry, as they’re honestly the best Christian music has to offer. The ability to draw in with such gracefully written words is a rare gift. From the beginning, Andrew has captivated listeners with music only an anointed musician can write, and I hope he continues to for many years to come.