Jon Foreman | Spring and Summer EPs
The Fourth of July week seems to be an appropriate time to to praise a great American songwriter. With his Spring and Summer EPs, Jon Foreman has cemented himself as just that. We should add that the Swithfoot frontman is a brave songwriter, as some of the lyrics on these recordings will land him in Dutch with some of the Christian music community that has made him a star, and an exquisite craftsman.
Like on the first two EPs, Fall and Winter, Foreman is freed from any constraints or obligations the band format holds, and he uses that space to perfectly augment songs with what they need. I do not know if Foreman recorded these six-song sets sequentially, but the last two -- which have just been released on one CD, same as the first pair -- show growth over the intitial efforts.
The closest thing to Switchfoot is Summer's Resurrect Me, which sounds like Switchfoot gone to seed, in a good way -- a great little cacophony of clangy steely guitars over a steady4-4 beat. Seriously, it could slip into a Switchfoot set with no problem.
But there are numerous songs that couldn't, their string and wind accompaniments perfectly accenting the songs, but also making them distinctively Foreman's.
Foreman is also a much more blunt songwriter on his own. The rap on Switchfoot's songs have often been that they are brilliant, but so couched in metaphor and cleverness that the listener could easily miss the point -- and this is a point of concern to some who question Switchfoot's commitment to Christianity.
There is no missing the point here. Some faith-community listeners may wish Foreman was murkier when they hear Instead of a Show, a tune as incendiary as anything Derek Webb has written. In the song, Foreman lambastes the church for putting on shows while ignoring the hurting world around it.
Away with your noisy worship
Away with your noisy hymns
I stop up my ears when you're singing 'em
I hate all your show
Instead, let there be a flood of justice
Some will be angry with Foreman for saying it. Some will say it needed to be said. Either way, Foreman grows as a challenging songwriter. But lest anyone use Show to question Foreman's faith, these EPs have some of his most spiritual writing to date, such as Spring's Your Love is Strong and Summer's House of God, Forever, an interpretation of Psalm 23 that ranks with 24 as one of the loveliest things Foreman has written.
As far as we know, things are good in the Switchfoot camp. They released a track for the Prince Caspian soundtrack last month, and have a tour in the offing with Third Day and Jars of Clay. But this solo voice Foreman has started using is quite compelling. Let's hear more.
Concert alert: Hawk Nelson is in Winchester at 6 p.m. July 5. We'll have more on Hawk later this week, but click here to buy tickets.