The Far Country
The Far Country saw Andrew Peterson going to great lengths to create a thought-provoking acoustic concept album, a sparkling feat indeed considering how dry the CCM-folk well had run by 2005. Of the theme for the CD, the lead singer said, "These songs are representative of what God's been teaching me over the last few years, that believing in and longing for Heaven affects every aspect of our lives here on Earth." Lyrically, the band portrayed these lessons with various references to scripture and fantasy works (Lord of the Rings fans will recognize at once "The Haven's Grey"). Musically, the material was tickled by a range of folk instrumentation that went well beyond the usual touches of accordion and mandolin; Peterson tapped the sounds of the ocarina, bouzouki, resonator guitar, hammered dulcimer and even an Irish whistle in "Little Boy Heart Alive." The album artwork and song titles also dealt with the joyful journey from life to death, showing a reverent yearning to leave everything behind and explore the next realm of eternity. Peterson's warm yet thin timbre continued an evolution toward Glen Phillips' recognizable tenor. The album never roared above a whisper, yet it spoke loudly of gospel themes. Christianity Today named it number eight on its list of the best Christian albums of 2005, deeming it "an engaging folk pop album" with "top-notch musicianship" and a "strong sense of melody and lyrical insight."