Jon Foreman
Fall and Winter


4.0
excellent

Review

by Nathaniel Fritz USER (17 Reviews)
September 11th, 2008 | 16 replies


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Switchfoot frontman trades in alternative rock for an acoustic concept record. Yes, it works out fine.

It might just be the sheltered Christian kid in me talking, but I’ve always thought that Switchfoot is one of the more underrated alternative bands of this decade. Now if you’re the average music fan and only remember Switchfoot for their Top 40 hits “Meant to Live” and “Dare You to Move” (which were THE Mom-rock songs of choice for movie theaters and malls in 2004), the above statement probably smacks a bit of hyperbole and maybe it is. But there’s always been a degree of universality and transparency in their music that’s set Switchfoot apart from the likes of Hoobastank or The Killers, at least in my mind. Of the six albums the band has released in the past ten years, none has been any worse than solid and their best, 2005’s Nothing Is Sound, is one of the handful of great mainstream rock records that has come out this century. And while the band’s success has undoubtedly been a team effort and no one member of the band is more important than the other and blahblahblahblahblah – make no mistake: Jon Foreman is the reason why Switchfoot is a good band. His raspy, laid-back vocals provide a perfect vehicle to drive his conscientious and empathetic lyrics home as the listener happily goes along for the ride. All terrible metaphors aside, Foreman really is a first-rate singer/songwriter who unfortunately has always been underappreciated (except by the Christian music community, who will always hold a fond place for him in their hearts for landing a Switchfoot song on the WB’s Everwood).

Foreman brings his considerable songwriting talents next to a solo acoustic project, a series of four six-song EPs entitled Fire, Water, Air and Ear -- wait, wrong Southern California artist. No, instead of focusing on elements, Foreman’s EPs are all titled after the seasons of the year: Fall, Winter, Spring, and Summer, the first half of which will be reviewed here. Don’t go into these EPs expecting sonic experimentation akin to what Thrice attempted with The Alchemy Index. Each disc differs slightly from another in mood – i.e. Fall and Winter are generally more melancholy while Spring and Summer are naturally more upbeat – but the instrumentation and arrangements here are simple and don’t vary much from disc to disc. It’s Foreman’s vocals, it’s Foreman’s guitar (or piano on a few tracks), and usually one, maybe two accompaniments (the horn and harmonica get a workout on Fall, cello or simple percussion do likewise for Winter). And that’s it. In this way, Foreman’s solo material is reminiscent of Switchfoot’s early albums blended with a healthy appreciation for Damien Rice and Elliott Smith. And while Fall and Winter don’t quite stand up to the best work of those other great singer-songwriters, it’s pretty damn good in its own right.

Winter is probably the best of the four EPs, as it contains Foreman’s best vocals of the entire project (or perhaps his career, for that matter). He sounds appropriately brittle and vulnerable on the stark “Learning How to Die” and grimly yet compassionately narrates a homeless woman’s tale of hopelessness in “Somebody’s Baby.” On the flip side, the quaint “Behind Your Eyes” finds a glimpse of beauty in an otherwise dreary landscape and Foreman’s yearning vocals maintain a sense of hope on “I Am Still Running.” Comparatively, Fall isn’t as consistently stunning or moving, but it may be a better introduction to the project. The beautifully bittersweet “Southbound Train” finds Foreman’s vocals taking on the persona of a weary traveler, while the piano-led “My Love Goes Free” sadly yet bravely accepts the loss of a loved one. Foreman’s lyrics have a tendency to decry the buildup of material possessions and note the evil man is capable of (see “Lord, Save Me from Myself” and “Equally Skilled”) and this Ecclesiastical side of him tends to wear thin after awhile, especially lines like ”And sex is a grand production, but I’m bored with that as well.” Really? Really?

Lack of sex drive aside, Foreman’s got that “everyman” quality that every singer/songwriter who wears their heart on their sleeve needs to be successful. He’s empathetic, he’s honest, he’s compassionate, he’s transparent, and he looks like a hippie. To be honest, this solo venture he’s undertaken probably better suits him than his role as frontman for Switchfoot; at the very least, he’s carving out a pretty good contingency plan for whenever his “real” band decides to call it quits. All in all, one of the better albums of the year.

Recommended Tracks:
Fall: Southbound Train, My Love Goes Free.
Winter: Learning How to Die, Behind Your Eyes, Somebody’s Baby



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user ratings (62)
Chart.
4.1
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
roofi
September 11th 2008


959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

All the EPs were released seperately over the course of about eight or nine months, but for the physical release, Fall and Winter were packaged together and the same with Spring and Summer.
Also, this is really good music and you should check it out.

NOTINTHEFACE
September 11th 2008


1653 Comments


Excellent, excellent review. I've been wondering about this for a long time but wasn't going to check it out without reccomendation. It sounds interesting enough to look into, and if it's more like Switchfoot's earlier stuff as you say, I'll like it.

IAmInsect
September 11th 2008


3800 Comments


you are a good writer, but i think you could've elaborated on the actual sound of the music itself a little more. i won't be picking this up ntl.

roofi
September 11th 2008


959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah, I was thinking about that. I don't know, the music doesn't really vary that much and I'd rather not be redundant. Regardless, I was REALLY rusty, took me forever to write this.
And yeah, NOTINTHEFACE, if you like Switchfoot's early stuff, you'll probably dig this; it's like their early stuff, only way way better.This Message Edited On 09.11.08

ninjuice
September 11th 2008


6760 Comments


Awesome review as always.
His voice gets really annoying in Switchfoot songs, but I know it's probably much better here.

thejared
September 13th 2008


199 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really dislike switchfoot but for some reason i still cant help but "love this " .. so laid back and awesome !! good review btw

Digging: Perfume Genius - Too Bright

Waior
January 12th 2009


11451 Comments


Switchfoot is so much better then their singles, but that's coming from a sheltered Christian kid too. Dang it!

Channing
January 12th 2009


497 Comments


i've been meaning to check this out

AtavanHalen
January 12th 2009


17927 Comments


Switchfoot rules, I'll check this.

roofi
January 12th 2009


959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Check Winter out first, it's by far the best.

Waior
January 12th 2009


11451 Comments


Debatable.

roofi
January 12th 2009


959 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Not really.

Linnell28
May 10th 2010


20 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review. The season theme was a great idea. Its great to see a more morose side of Jon. Sounds a lot like Eddie Vedder's, "into the wild"

nakedmolerat
November 9th 2012


21 Comments


I think it would've been nice to review the EPs separately.

That being said great review it's hard to find good writing which makes me laugh like this


Emim
November 9th 2012


26625 Comments


White as Snow is a staple song for my church

toxin.
April 30th 2013


12422 Comments


this is better than Switchfoot.



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