After releasing their full-length debut Twilight, Future of Forestry decided to turn to the series of EP’s as their next move. Twilight showcased the band’s talent well. Tracks as diverse as the soaring U2-esque “Open Wide,” intimate “Twilight” and “If You Find Her,” and the mostly instrumental beauty “Sanctitatis” proved that Future of Forestry had the potential to be huge in indie soft rock. Twilight wasn’t perfect, but arguably better and more developed than other debuts in their genre. But I digress, this review is not for Twilight of course, but for the first of the three Travel EP’s.
While having 3 EP’s all titled Travel might seem like an indication of a concept album, such is not quite true. While opener “Traveler’s Song” may be about travel (as the title of course suggests), most of the tracks do not follow this pattern. While Twilight was, at its core, a worship album, Travel I mostly departs from this to explore more poetic themes. Lyrics such as “this is the life / your soul is just what they seek / you feel the clash but you scarcely can see / love is alive and is pouring down like a flood / I know you’d step back and see if you could” do not abandon their faith, but express it in a much more creative fashion than the ever rehashed worship lyrics by other Christian artists.
The main musical aspect Future of Forestry has refined on Travel I, is quite simply, song structure and composition, along with Eric Owyoungs improved vocals. Every song on Travel I is completely distinctive from the other tracks. Traveler’s Song could very well be one of the best potential singles off of the Travel EP’s, but this is not detrimental at all. The creative rhythm and atmosphere of the song set a mood typical of more acoustic tracks, while sounding more comparable to Open Wide or All I Want in terms of energy and tempo. As the song progresses Owyoung begins to push himself to higher pitches than you might predict based off of his previous work, even in earlier parts of the song, but he pulls it off effortlessly. But don’t expect to not hear his range again later- expect to hear more of it.
If certain tracks off of Twilight struck you as epic, it was more likely a result of your liking towards the song and Owyoung’s terrific vocals, but not necessarily due to the structure of the song itself. But with Travel I, Future of Forestry have begun to write songs that lean to the occasionally clichéd “epic” due to their very structure. In fact, “This Hour,” “Colors In Array,” and “Halleluiah” are all very epic, but not all in the same way. “This Hour” utilizes a bold strings arrangement placed over exceedingly rapid and technical drums coupled with passionate vocals, “Colors In Array” is perhaps Owyoung’s finest vocal achievement yet released with absolutely marvelous yet controlled range, and “Halleluiah” uses diverse instrumentation and climactic ending to end the EP nicely.
While it might seem pretentious to have three tracks on a six track EP so grand, Future of Forestry’s uncommonly mature production and Owyoung’s intimately strong voice make Travel I a testament to the true talent present. Darker acoustic tracks are still present, such as “Close Your Eyes,” which is sure to please anyone who enjoyed “Speak To Me Gently” or some earlier Switchfoot ballads for those not familiar with the band’s history. “Closer to Me” is more reminiscent of “If You Find Her,” but only in the general feeling given off by the song and not in such a way that it feels like familiar territory. Both tracks though are expertly produced show that the band hasn’t totally abandoned their Twilight sound, but refined it quite nicely.
All in all, Travel I is quite excellent. Future of Forestry improve the sound they have already well developed, and branch out into new territory, while not alienating certain tracks and causing a loss of integrity to the album as a whole. The amount of maturity shown is surprising. Highly recommended for fans of indie rock in the same vein as U2 and early Switchfoot.
Recommended Tracks: This Hour, Traveler’s Song, Colors In Array