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Music Review: Jon Foreman – Spring and Summer EPs

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After twelve years of crowd wowing and multiple millions of albums sold as lead singer of the band Switchfoot, Jon Foreman has released a series of low-key, indie style EPs named after the four seasons. The latest installments, Spring and Summer, were released together June 2008. I was very excited when a friend introduced me to Foreman’s music, and my enthusiasm has only grown after listening to his most recent dual-album release.

Different moods, instruments, and messages are introduced nearly every time you punch the CD player’s forward arrow – so much so that a car passenger asked if we were listening to the same artist while Spring and Summer played in my car. The tendency of the tracks to differ, however, did nothing to compromise my enjoyment of Foreman’s unique artistry.

Whereas some albums can only be enjoyed in particular circumstances, Spring and Summer possess a versatility that can ensure extended play-time on the listener’s iPod or CD player. “Love Isn’t Made,” the second track on the Spring EP, conjures images of a disillusioned or lonely lover driving in dismal showers around a deserted city. More than once I’ve felt I could empathize with this song during periods of strife or heart break.

Skip two tracks ahead of “Love Isn’t Made” and you’ll encounter “Baptize My Mind,” a song whose bright tones provide a joyful melody to lyrics with practical theological implications. “Hey, baptize my mind. Hey, baptize my eyes,” the singer pleads. Foreman expresses the humble upward cry of a man who desires to live a righteous life but recognizes the inability to do so on his own.

If Spring is a storehouse rich in sound, lyrics, and innovation, Summer is no less well-off. In it Foreman touches on vanity, mortality, justice, and hope. Surprisingly, the ambiguity that one expects to surround these subjects is absent in his musical prose, which range from joy or poignancy to down-right grittiness. It was by listening to a copy of Summer I received from a friend that I discovered one of my favorite songs, “Resurrect Me.”

In “Resurrect Me” Foreman’s dusty voice takes up the reasoning of a man who realizes he is “…an empty shell…” of the person he once understood and would die to escape that shallow existence. The quick tempo and untamed guitar caught me off guard the first time I listened to this track – images of red dirt clouds billowing from beneath the tires of cars in heated chase while the figurine of a Hawaiian hula dancer bobs back and forth on the dashboard filled my mind as I listened. The song reminds its listeners of the Beach Boys’ influence on Switchfoot’s music and Jon Foreman’s California roots.

The audio quality of both of these EP’s is superb. Although the many layers of sound have been digitally merged, they still compliment Foreman’s weathered voice with lively complexity. I would recommend these albums to any friend – especially to any devoted Switchfoot fan. Spring and Summer may also appeal to those who enjoy listening to bands like U2 and Coldplay.

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