The honesty comes across so clearly in everything that Brad Peterson creates. Plus, he creates everything in his garden shed, so of course that makes his music even cooler. His new song “Charcoal Soul” is no different. It’s got an interesting vibe to it that I really enjoy, so let’s dig in.

Recorded this spring and released on June 5th, this song brings so much emotion with a fantastic groove. On his website link for the new release, he said this about the new single:

“It’s a sort of ode to the songs that could be heard emanating from neighborhood teenage kids’ bedrooms in my childhood. I suppose there’s a juxtaposition of idyllic memory backdropping a more cynical lyrical commentary about how time has slightly embittered the sweetness.”

The song clearly discusses and expresses that feeling when you realize that you’re getting old and life doesn’t seem as fun as it did when you were a kid. Of course we’ve all felt the moment when life feels a little more bitter than it does sweet. Peterson tells the story perfectly.

How do I have a big black charcoal soul
It’s been a while
Can’t remember when we’ve last smiled
We seldom speak
And when we try
A magnificent lie
Not without a heavy toll
When did we get so old

I love the imagery that “a big black charcoal soul” creates. It makes me think of a soul that’s felt a lot in its lifetime, and not all of it has been good. It’s a mix of nostalgia and reminiscing on the past, but also coming to terms with the reality of adulthood.

The production of the song accompanies those lyrics so well. It has a sort of bluesy groove, with a slide guitar entrance that creates such an atmosphere for the song to begin. It feels somber, but the kind of somber that you just want to sit in for a while.

When Peterson’s voice cuts through the instruments, you know it’s going to be so good.

On this quiet night
in this dim light…
I promise to tell you
if I should stop believing
You move and dance
with slight of hand
to grab and then retrieve me
but not without a heavy toll

This song doesn’t have many lyrics, but it doesn’t need to. It says what it needed to say and so much more in little words. These are definitely my favorite lyrics, though. I hear him saying that he’s promising someone to not stop believing in the magical light of your childhood.

Maybe he’s talking to those feelings themselves instead of a person. Maybe that feeling of youthfulness is what grabs and retrieves him without heavy toll when all he may be feeling is that bitterness of life. Whatever he may be trying to express in those lines, it moved me.

My favorite thing about music is when someone else’s story relates so much to your own, or at least it really feels like it does. Peterson never ceases to create that feeling in all of the songs he makes.

“Charcoal Soul” lets us know that we are not alone when the darkness of the world we live in comes. It also tells us that if we look for the light, it’s still in all of us somewhere.

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