Title: Counting Stars
Andrew Peterson's latest undertaking is a starry tapestry woven tightly with what he says are the "things that matter." Counting Stars is his thirteenth studio project (his second with Centricity) and bursts with Peterson's affable and honest storytelling abilities. According to him, it is the most blatantly transparent of his recordings to date. The seasoned songwriter has said that this compilation contains songs so personal that he was "a little embarrassed to include them." It is this very fact that may endear you to his music. He shows his humanity.
True to its name, Counting Stars has a pervasive dream-like ambience, mixed with his trademark rootsy sound, bringing a relaxed touch to Peterson's introspective musings. The opening "Many Roads" is an invocation directly addressing the listener and lays the foundation for Peterson's celebration of the ordinary.
Within these warm musical concoctions are several snapshots into real life, tempered by the grace of God and a sincere sense of striving. Some are luminous and full of wonder such as "The Magic Hour." Others, like "You Came So Close," illustrate a darker side of life where he pleads to a friend with marital trouble, "don't let go." In "World Traveler," he recounts past desires to search for adventure, but describes how he found more of the "distant seas" right at home. "Dancing in the Minefields" candidly tells the story of Peterson's youthful marriage with a promise of faithfulness and longevity no matter what life brings. Perhaps the album is best summed up in his own words—that we must choose to "lean in to what lasts."
Peterson delivers songs that seek to bring the focus back to the steadiness of a life based on principle. He reminds us of the simple things: love God, love people, always hope. This is the stuff of life he brings to the table. Perhaps Peterson's openness will challenge listeners to re-examine their own lives through the lens of "the things that matter." As a whole, the lyrics reveal a man who has come out on the other side of life's ups and downs with his head held high and joy in his heart.
**This review first published on August 5, 2010.