In the early days of an artist’s career, there’s a good amount of wandering and experimenting, planting seeds that will someday blossom into their own kind of art. Many of us have watched that transformation happen in real time with Skye Peterson.
Longtime Andrew Peterson fans may recognize her voice singing harmonies in the background of her dad’s records, going as far back as 2012’s Light for the Lost Boy. Growing up with a deep love for music and full immersion in Nashville’s songwriter scene led her toward collaborating on a number of projects — playing in the band Wake Low with her brothers, collaborating with NAMO and The Gettys, and releasing a few solo EPs of her own. She’s been sharpening her craft for years, and now on her full-length debut Where the Winter Was, we hear the sound of a young artist finding her voice. And the sound is beautiful.
From start to finish, Peterson’s debut album features her best songwriting yet, blending rich theological insights and open-hearted storytelling. “Real Love” opens the record with an invitation into truth that is timeless and raw, but gently spoken through Peterson’s hushed, tender vocals:
No, love isn’t always a voice in the room It pierces like an arrow when the sound breaks through It’s not always a Bible that points to the Truth No, love might bend you and break you but it’ll carry you too So look at me, lean in close, I’ll show you real love
In a tight ten songs, Peterson plumbs the depths of story and the human heart, drawing from her lived experience as a young woman growing up in a complicated world. “Suburbs,” a tribute to her mother’s love, speaks from the liminal space of young adulthood, when growing up means finding new adventures and missing the only home you’ve known. It’s immediately followed by “Not So Sure,” a quietly yearning track offering a compassionate glimpse into middle school insecurities that haunt us into adulthood. Peterson’s songs resonate with the universal longing at any age as she sings on “Suburbs”: “the imprint of eternity / A sense that there is somewhere we belong.”
Since graduating high school, Peterson has spent time studying theology in college, and these intellectual pursuits have added an extra dimension to her songwriting. Putting the old, old stories in conversation with her own gives some of her best songs an extra richness, like “Cedars of Lebanon.” In reflecting on the trees that built Solomon’s temple, she finds a prayer for future strength: “Let me reach the heights and scrape the skies / Let me rest upon the Promise like a cedar of Lebanon…”
Fans of singer/songwriters like Taylor Leonhardt, Sandra McCracken, and Jess Ray will find a lot to love on Where the Winter Was. The layered acoustic sound draws you in, while the lyrics grow deeper and reveal new treasures on every listen.
Jen Rose Yokel is a poet, freelance writer, and spiritual director. Her words have appeared at She Reads Truth, CCM Magazine, and other publications, and she released her first poetry collection Ruins & Kingdoms in 2015. Originally from Central Florida, she now makes her home in Fall River, Massachusetts with her husband Chris, where you can find her enjoying used bookstores and good coffee.