The first song on Eric Peters’ new record Birds of Relocation was just what I had hoped it would be. “The Old Year” is a definite step forward in both songwriting and production. And that’s what we all want, right? We want to do a little better this time than we did last time. It was both insightful and honest. It sounded great. It set the stage for the rest of the record, which I hoped would live up to this promise. So basically, it was what I expected, what I had hoped for. What I could never have expected was that this song would be followed by one of the best records I’ve ever heard. Seriously, maybe top 20 all-time. So just lend me a little more of your time to tell you about it.
You guys know how much I love great lyrics. So I hope it conveys just how beautiful the melodies are on this record when I tell you that I had to go back for a second listen to find out what the songs were about. I was just enraptured listening to these beautiful melodic lines. From the pre-chorus to “Lost and Found” (which once I listened to it more carefully also had one of the most beautiful word pictures as well) to the soaring chorus of “Don’t Hold Your Breath” to possibly the catchiest chorus written since the Beach Boys in “Today Dream”. The whole record is just beautiful melodically. Most records with beautiful music have poor to average lyrics, which is why I was so overjoyed when I slowed down and started spending time with each song, to understand it better, and found the lyrics actually outshone these amazing melodies.
Birds of Relocation is located in that moment when you’ve just survived one of the dark times in your life. It’s about looking up and finding out whether the pain has tainted your vision of the future, or as Eric finds, whether the sunshine is breaking through the clouds and you are breathless at the view of the horizon. I can’t tell you how much I wish I’d written even one of the songs on this record.
“Lost and Found” is an awesome joyful experience of the cross. I loved that line in the pre-chorus that I mentioned earlier, “Children hide themselves behind their hands, and peek through to be found once again.” I often tell stories of playing hide-and-seek with my kids when they were little. My little girl would hide in the same place every time. And my little boy would start making loud noises after the first few minutes. Because for them, the joy was not in the hiding, but in the being found. Eric beautifully captures that in this song.
“Don’t Hold Your Breath” is one of the songs that really stuck with me. I’m not even going to pretend that I understand all that God has for me in this song. I think I’ll be wrestling with this one for a long time. I can’t even get past the first line of the chorus: “It’s been a long time since I kept my word.” So beautiful and so raw.
“Where Would I Go” is a beautiful and fun love song to his wife, but “Soul and Flesh” is one of the greatest love songs ever written. It’s brought me to tears twice, once on a plane, and once in Whataburger, not normally emotional places for me. “She loves me for my smile, and the crow’s feet on my eyes.” I find echoes of Billy Collins here, finding the beauty in the normal things. “She loves the song deep inside my chest.” My wife loved that line as I played the song for her when we had a moment to ourselves. Incredible song.
“Voices” deals with all the voices in our heads telling us lies about who we are and what we’re worth. I think we all live there at least some of the time.
“Today Dream” is an incredible idea and a great song. It’s written by a man who recognizes that he daydreams and that it takes me out of the lives of those he loves. And so, he wrote a song from his wife’s point of view, asking him to be present. Great song.
“Different Separate Lives” is a song I wouldn’t claim to understand yet. Because it’s about community, which I am horrible at. Which is why I probably didn’t get this song the first time through. But these lyrics are gorgeous and I am both excited and fearful about what God has in store through this tune just in my own life.
I don’t know what to say about “No Stone Unturned” so I’ll just say this… You could slide this song into the middle of Liturgy, Legacy and it would fit right in. Amazing.
Then Eric starts to wrap it up with “The New Year”. Where “The Old Year” was letting go of damage done in the past and beginning to look forward, “The New Year” is finding the hope in what’s ahead.
It seems like that would be the end, wrapped up from “Old Year” to “New Year”. But there is another song. I first assumed that I had gotten a version with a bonus track, and that it didn’t really fit in with the whole record. And then I listened to the song. I couldn’t have been more wrong. “Fighting For Life” is the perfect ending to an amazing record. It is simply saying that when you look at the journey, the pain and the joy, the sorrow and the success, it is worth fighting for. This is not just a story, but a call to live a story. Not just glimpsing the light at the end of the tunnel, but chasing it.
You can buy the record right now at this website:
I have been afraid to write this. Because I can’t see how I could write something that would do this record justice. And I can’t. All I can do is point you toward it.
I can’t believe I’m going to write this. But it’s what I think. I think if Rich Mullins had been given more time here, and if God had blessed his life with love and a wife, if he had the chance to see as much of the relational beauty as he saw of the natural beauty, I think he might have written some songs like the ones we find on Birds of Relocation. And you know that’s about the highest praise I can give someone. You will not find a combination of more beautiful poetry, raw honesty, and gorgeous melodies for a long time. I can only think of a few in the history of music. I don’t know exactly where this record will fall after God has finished using it in my life. I only know that I am incredibly grateful that He chose to share it with me now.