Prime Cuts: The Burning Edge of Dawn, The Power of a Great Affection, Be Kind to Yourself
Like a tantalizing meal that lingers with its rich aromatic flavours long after you have finished your last bite, the songs of Peterson lingers. They haunt. They disturb. They comfort. Some of the lines such as "Now my heart is a catacomb/I'm praying we can find a way to raise these bones" are so acerbic that they will get us ruminating for days without end. Further, Anderson has such a way of spinning out attention grabbing narratives that he will get us hook, line and sinker. With narrative cues such as "I remember Mr. Greene and I/Were walking down a busy street in Louisville," we can't help but beg for more of the story to come. Maybe it's because Peterson is also a novel writer (Peterson has just completed writing The Warden and the Wolf King, the final book in the award-winning Wingfeather Saga series), he has honed his pen in such a way that he's the connoisseur of language that excites and engages. These 10 cuts, in short, piques, excites and entices our hearts and minds.
"The Burning Edge of Dawn" is Peterson's eleventh studio album and the follow-up to 2012's "Light for the Lost Boy." Written by Peterson between February and May 2015, with his friend cum producer Gabe Scott (Crowder), most of these songs were written in the studio as they were recording the tracks. Nevertheless, despite its ad hoc genesis, the songs don't appear haphazard or enervated. Rather, this album thrives with great theological depth. "The Power of a Great Affection," which borrows vocabulary from Jonathan Edwards and C. S. Lewis, is a gorgeous ballad that speaks of how God woos us from our love for sinful idols to Himself. This is an exquisite piece that clothes the Reformed Doctrine of the Unconditional Election of God in sonic garb that is both palatable and so affecting.
Certainly Peterson is one that can never be faulted for recycling platitudes. "Be Kind to Yourself" is an acoustic-sounding ballad that speaks of how we often we beat yourself up because we don't believe God's forgiveness. This is therapeutic for those of us who have embittered by hurts. Again anyone who has had wrestled with disappointments and unanswered prayers will have their heart strings pulled with the stunning "The Rain Keeps Falling." Words such as "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" are extremely soul piercing.
Peterson definitely puts his Wingfeather Saga skills to work on the title cut "The Dawning Edge of Dawn." Filled with lots of apocalyptic images, "Dawning" is a graphic depiction of our present evil age sitting on the precipice of the eschaton. Yet, not all works. Precisely because acoustic-sounding ballad is the melodic rhetoric of the record, a couple of the songs when played back to back sound quite similar, a perennial blind spot for many singer-songwriters. One would have wished Peterson had included a couple of songs from other writers or at least mix up the tempo a tad more. Nevertheless, as far as theological depth and the beauty of heartfelt language go, this album deserves an A+.
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