Sunday, May 29, 2016

Eric Peters' Far Side of the Sea (A Review)

Am I a man of few words? Not really. More like a man of short sentences.
I once summarized Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea in five words:
Old man. Fishing. No fish.

I can be brief.

And while I thought about using twitter for this review... The Far Side of the Sea--the new album by Eric Peters-- definitely deserves more than 140 characters.

When I was hosting the Twelve Minute Muse podcast a couple of years ago, Eric was kind enough to do an interview; you can hear that interview HERE. At that point he had started working on the concept and songs for this album. Fast forward to today...the digital version released to Kickstarter patrons just a couple of weeks ago, and the CDs began arriving in mailboxes this week.

So let's explore The Far Side of the Sea.
Throughout, the imagery takes us outdoors.
We start with lightning,
Then, we go to the shore. Next, the starry night, and then "the fields that are covered in dust ."
There are "Vapor trails [that] disappear in the sky," " the trampled earth,"
"Finding breath in the bone dry dirt," and "Under skies of old routine, when the earth brings no relief."

All along this nature so often prompts us... we are forced to come to grips with our smallness...our frailty. Do you know what I mean?
Have you ever stood on the shoreline and gazed at the vastness of the water...the tide both calming you and somehow terrifying you all at once?  In the same way, have you stood beneath the sway of a giant oak tree amidst the approach of a summer storm?  Again...did you simultaneously feel the sense of both comfort and terror?

As Peters' songs carry us through these scenes, he captures that sense of wonder and despair. The tracks flow seamlessly into each other until we reach number 6. "Beautiful One (Nowhere)" is the magnificent tree in the middle of the metaphorical forest we are walking through.We are forced to slow down, walk around it a few times, ponder its weightiness. As we move ahead from there, our step seems lighter. Our confidence strengthened somewhat. Maybe it's that feeling of the light at the end of the tunnel...that sense that we will make it out of the woods.

All the way through this journey, Peters voices a confessional with equal parts transparency...honesty...fragile humanity...despair...hopefulness...and trust...somehow looking beyond the present doubts and difficult circumstances to a promise of something better. He notes the "rusted things wearing worn-out crowns," but looks beyond to "a light that will guide me home."

Musically, I hear a palette of Peter Gabriel...Jackson Browne... and slight traces of Andrew Peterson and Steven Curtis Chapman. The music is atmospheric, providing a canvas for the brilliant, lyrical sketches of Eric Peters.

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