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LABEL: Watershed Records
GENRE: Folk/Pop
SPECIAL EFFECT(S): Peterson finished and recorded a previously unreleased song by the late Rich Mullins; Mandolin maestro Dan Tyminski (Alison Krauss and Union Station, Lonesome River Band) provides stellar mandolin tracks.
PRODUCER(S): Glenn Rosenstein

It's ironic that Andrew Peterson's biggest hit from his last album was titled "Nothing to Say," because nothing could be further from the truth. Peterson sauntered onto the national scene in 2000 carrying only a handful of rootsy folk songs and a guitar, and promptly blew both critics and Christian music fans away.

His new album, Clear to Venus, kicks off with "No More Faith," a folksy/Appalachian-sounding tune that begins with what appears to be a tongue-in-cheek reference to the aforementioned hit single from Carried Along ("This is not another song about the mountains"). The body of the song, however, is a gutsy wrestling with the dual nature of faith.

Another obvious highlight is "Mary Picked the Roses," a Rich Mullins lyric set to music written by Peterson. Also essential to mention are "Loose Change", a song about inadequacy as told by a penny; "Hold Up My Arms", a Beatle-esque tune to his wife Jamie about supporting him in prayer; and "Alaska or Bust", a bittersweet story about Peterson's cancer stricken uncle who drove from Florida to Alaska for a dream fishing trip. Perhaps the most powerful moment on the record, however, belongs to "Venus", a stunningly intimate look at the life Peterson and his family share on the road.

Producer Glenn Rosenstein is once again to be commended for finding Peterson's musical center and helping him express it in every measure of these 11 songs. Add in Gabe Scott's exceptional talent and lots of crisp, clean three-part harmonies, and you have an album that will likely be remembered as one of the rare treasures of 2001.

--Laura Harris