Jon Foreman performs with Switchfoot at the 2007 Ichthus Festival in Wilmore, Ky. LexGo photo by Rich Copley.
Switchfoot's songs have long addressed issues about faith in this modern world, usually dressed up in rockin' grooves that touch on pop, punk and funk. Oh! Gravity, the band's last disc, even found the group, and specifically frontman Jon Foreman, going more and more behind closed doors for songs that sounded like they came from deeply personal places -- see Faust, Midas and Myself or Let Your Love be Strong.
Solo, Foreman's voice is at once familiar and brand new. Unlike many bandleader-gone-solo efforts, where it's hard to discern a difference, Fall and Winter are unmistakably singular efforts in the soundscapes and songwriting. These are albums Switchfoot probably wouldn't have made. The sound is mostly acoustic and spare, with a single guitar or piano often augmented by by strings or winds, probably to best effect on The Moon is a Magnet. Foreman likes echo, his instruments often seeming to bounce among quiet hillsides.
Lyrically, he's much more first person than in Switchfoot, and touches on subjects such as sex, addiction and death that have never been favorites in the Christian pop market. There is the Switchfoot social justice voice, particularly Equally Skilled from Fall -- "both of our hands are equally skilled, at doing evil; equally skilled, at bribing the judges; equally skilled, at perverting justice." But there's also My Love Goes Free, with its phone calls from the West Coast to Nashville and story of a tortured relationship.
They're songs that, here in Central Kentucky, would probably sound more at home on adult rock WUKY that on Air1, and Foreman has been playing some very mainstream venues to support this project. That said, the discs also contain some of his most explicitly Christian lyrics in years, from Fall's opening statement of faith, The Cure for Pain, to the communion song, In Love, that closes Winter.
And, like at the end of most any winter, when Foreman's latest EP ends, you think, "I can't wait for Spring."
"Oh, I guess they'll say I've grown," Foreman sings on Fall's Southbound Train. Yes we will, and may you grow much more, and continue to share your soul.