I was unfamiliar with Andrew Peterson until reading this review by Adele Konyndyk Gallogly. For some reason, maybe just the word “folk” and the album cover’s aesthetic, I was expecting something closer to Steven Delopoulos when I fired After All These Years up on Spotify. That said, there’s a sort of deftness to the writing, a lot of ideas and images and call backs you don’t typically hear paired with the kind of production Peterson seems to favor. As a writer, I appreciate the lyrical work he’s doing, and “Don’t You Want To Thank Someone” is an all-around standout with a Rich Mullins feel. Peterson’s penchant for this-is-how-it-was biography aside, “Dancing In the Minefields,” even as a phrase, is a great metaphor for marriage.
After All These Years develops a lived-in feel as it progresses, and the songs starting with “Don’t You Want To Thank Someone” are generally better than the ones before it. That could be because, on first listen, it takes that long to warm to concept of Christian pop-folk, or because it takes that long to hear musical traces of Mullins and even Bruce Hornsby. Still, forgiving cameos by Illinois on three tracks in a row (if you’re an artist working out faith in public, writing about Illinois, and are not Sufjan Stevens, the deck is stacked against you), the lyrics, as images, are interesting and often nuanced. Mixed with occasionally straightforward Protestant catechesis, their spiritual appeal will, as with anything, come down to the listener.
Production-wise, Peterson would benefit from a fuller band higher in the mix. I can imagine these songs getting that kind of treatment live to strong effect.