Ha ha to the old year, goodbye to the cold fear,
Gonna cry when I need it, smile when I need it,
Many of us have endured those times in life when everything seems to spin out of control. Jobs disappear, marriages get upended, and we’re left with many more questions than we have answers. These words, from the opening track of Eric Peters’ Birds of Relocation, are a commentary from the other side, a reflective and joyous response to a dark year. Peters’ ninth studio album, Birds of Relocation resonates with a grounded hope for which we all long—and he’s graciously made it available free to Christ and Pop Culture members.
In his review over at Rabbit Room, S. D. Smith says, “Eric Peters has crafted his greatest album to date…his own escape story. It’s the airborne travelogue of a grateful, singed survivor, the record of one songbird whose shining eyes are turned suddenly skyward.” The lyrics above, from “The Old Year,” come from one on the opposite shore across a sea of difficulty, one with a fuller and much clearer view of life’s trials than the one currently caught in the throes of despair. This is the value and beauty Peters offers us in Birds of Relocation: a retrospective of past difficulties, a clear assessment of present realities, and a hopeful gaze for what lies ahead.
Birds of Relocation is organized to highlight this perspective. While the album opens with “The Old Year,” its penultimate track is “The New Year,” in which Peters sings,
This is the year when laughter douses charred and burnt-out dreams,
This is the year when wrens return to nest in storm-blown trees.
Is this the year of relocation from boughs of old despair?
This is the year to perch on hope’s repair.
This is no naive hope, however. Peters’ vision of the time ahead is one fully informed by the struggles that came before it. It is not a blind escape, but a cautious embrace—a recognition that though memory may falter, we believe God truly does plan for the good of his people. This is made evident as Peters singes in the closing track, “Fighting for Life”:
I go into the darkness carrying a light,
I will have no fear because I’m not alone,
I got angels’ voices and friends who love me for who I am.
So when the waters come,
I fly above this flooded earth looking for a sign of life,
And I relocate on boughs of hope,
Like a living soul, remember that
In a little while, in a little while,
The ghosts return to noise.
Oh, but not right now, not right now,
The sky must be enjoyed.
These meaning-laden lyrics, accompanied by Peters’ folk-pop sound and distinctly beautiful voice, carry the listener on a flight of redemption, not necessarily salvific—though that could certainly be the case—but a journey of seeing old things with new eyes. At Christ and Pop Culture, we’re grateful for Peters’ work and thankful he has generously shared his art with our members. While you listen to and enjoy Birds of Relocation, make sure to check out and consider backing Peters’ Kickstarter for his tenth album. Far Side of the Sea is a concept album and photo-essay book designed as an exercise in empathy. It is a compilation of first-person narratives from the perspective of forgotten objects and people, and will certainly display Peters’ excellent talent as a musician and songwriter.