By Amy Hauck, Contributing Writer
Veteran singer songwriter Andrew Peterson returns this month with his latest release, Light For the Lost Boy, a project with 10 new songs that are pensive but reflective of hope. Musically he is consistent with his well – loved sound and his trademark storytelling is ever present. In fact, several tracks on this album were greatly influenced by his reading of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’s novel, The Yearling. The relationship between the boy (Jody Baxter) and his fawn serves as a metaphor that weaves its way through this album and perhaps, into the hearts of listeners as well.
The metaphor speaks of loss. Of grieving something that slipped between one’s fingers and leaves behind the unsettling feeling that it was possible to have grabbed a hold of it somehow. Appropriately, the project begins with an elegiac tone, where nature is literally bowing down, the trees are “wringing their hands” and the “leaves go by like a funeral band.” He ends “Come Back Soon” by crying for deliverance in the “womb of the world,” but listeners must commit to the rest of the album to fully understand what it is he is calling for deliverance from.
Lyrically, Peterson consistently grapples with humanity’s spiritual longing for home. Songs like “The Voice of Jesus” and the “Ballad of Jody Baxter” wrestle with the concept of vanished youth through the eyes of an older and more experienced storyteller that longs to revisit the innocent wonder of his childhood. He juxtaposes youth and vigor with the pain of knowing that time is a merciless pursuant. In his personal writing, Peterson explains that he has a secret grief for his children; “they inherit a world teeming with graces and wonders and mystery—and yet they too will” realize that this “innocence so fine will fray.” Light For the Lost Boy, strives to shed light on this dissonance, but reminds listeners that they are not alone, “even to the end.”
One of the highlights of this project is that it gleams with metaphor, yet sometimes the figurative language can feel overbearing. While Peterson strategically intertwines concepts to paint a fuller picture for listeners, he is occasionally in danger of coming across trite, and flirts with ambiguity. However, he maintains a sage-like presence throughout Light for the Lost Boy, advising and shedding light on the fact that we are not “alone in this great darkness.”
The final song echoes the first, with the line “come back soon,” and a yearning for The Redeemer to come and make all things right again despite the “endless ache” of “longing for the world before the Fall.” In the end, Peterson does a fair job of depicting the frayed and fragile existence of the world, whilst pointing toward faith and keeping “the fire alive.”