|LABEL: Watershed Records|
SPECIAL EFFECT(S): Alison Krauss made Peterson's day by joining him on the opening cut. Also listen for Cliff Young, Phil Madeira, Jill Phillips and the ubiquitous Matthew Perryman-Jones who lend their varied talents, including some great strings.
PRODUCER(S): Steve Hindalong and Derri Daugherty
The album's opening (which consists of a handful of plaintive piano notes courtesy of Ben Shive), clues you in that something's different. This isn't Andrew Peterson's usual guitar-driven, folk-tinged pop. But then he begins to sing: "Sarah, take me by the arm/Tomorrow we are Canaan bound," and it couldn’t be anyone else. The Bible character cameos, the melancholy tales of faith found amid this life that leaves us longing for the next one, and the unique imagery and wordplay that make you wonder if he wasn't really meant to be a poet are all fast becoming musical trademarks.
While Peterson's music has always been personal, on Love & Thunder the melding of life into art is so seamless it's difficult to tell where the music ends and the artist begins. This album almost seems to live and breathe with Peterson's heart beating faintly in time under the music.
One of the most touching tunes has to be "Family Man," an ode to minivans, Disney vacations and life's left turns which lead us to places we never knew we wanted to go but end up bringing the most joy. Another tearjerker is "Tools," penned for Peterson's grandfather on the day he died. Then there's "Pillar of Fire," "The Silence of God" and "After the Last Tear Falls," all wonderful in their own way.
What you won't find on Love & Thunder is the quirky fun of "Loose Change" or "Alaska or Bust," and I have to admit that playfulness is missed. But in the end, it's a small price to pay for this disc full of gems.
—Wendy Lee Nentwig