As with his past solo efforts, Foreman proves to be a thoughtful, engaging singer/songwriter, his vulnerable but endearing vocals backed by minimal yet elegant production on this solo EP...
The Wonderlands: Sunlight
Label: Word Entertainment
Time: 6 tracks / 24:48 min.
Once again Switchfoot front-man Jon Foreman embarks on a themed solo excursion – this time, the multi-part project falls under the general title, The Wonderlands, and this, the first set of songs, is called Sunlight. Having dealt with a seasonal motif last time, Foreman has turned his attention to micro-managing the hours of the day now, with an ultimate goal of creating a song for each hour (and a unique producer for each song).
Sunlight is not as bright and cheery as the title might suggest, with the introspective Foreman mulling over such subjects as the frailty of the human condition (“Terminal”), unfortunate childhoods and how they manifest in adult life (“Caroline”), the hypocrisy of the church (“Patron Saint of Rock and Roll”), and a society that has not yet learned how to replace violence and hate with love (“All of God's Children”). Somewhat more sunny are the messages in “The Mountain,” which is a hopeful ode to faith, and the bouncy, “You Don't Know How Beautiful You Are,” an encouraging call to drop the mask, reveal who you are, and soldier on.
As with his past solo efforts, Foreman proves to be a thoughtful, engaging songwriter with a vulnerable but endearing vocal style that's immediately identifiable. The over-all effect is of minimal production, yet there are delicate introductions of strings and even muted horns here and there. The first track, “Terminal,” has an ethereal, driving MuteMath vibe, “Patron Saint of Rock and Roll” has a Beach Boys moment on the song's bridge, and the more folk-ish “The Mountain” has an almost Simon and Garfunkel quality lurking around the musical edges.
Lyrically, the songs are socially-conscious but even more universally self-conscious, and come from a Christian world-view.
“...We’re not destined for this pain / We hide ourselves and put the fig leaves on / But a mask can never cover up this shame,” (“You Don't Know How Beautiful You Are”) combines human psychology with a Biblical literacy that surfaces several times throughout.
It's fitting that a project dealing with the hours of a day – a finite measure of time – starts off with a song like “Terminal” - a reminder of our mortality and of our responsibility to view others as being in need of rescue or – at the very least – understanding:
“...Some folks die in offices one day at a time / They could live a hundred years
But their soul's already dying / Don't let your spirit die before your body does.
We're terminal, we're terminal...”
Sunlight is a fine beginning for this series. As Michael Been once said, 'let the day begin!'
- Bert Saraco