Jon Foreman may be best known by most for his work as lead singer of Switchfoot, a band that has attained popularity in both Christian and mainstream music circles since the late 1990s. Fans who have followed him more closely, though, may also be aware of the four seasonally-themed solo EPs (extended play) of mostly acoustic songs he released in 2007-2008—to respectable critical acclaim.
Now Foreman has expanded his solo discography with The Wonderlands, another four-part series EPs centered on one theme. This time that theme is darkness and light. The Wonderlands series EPs are titled Sunlight, Shadows, Darkness, and Dawn. The thematic unity of the project—right down to the number of songs (24, one for each hour of the day)—is commendable.
Soundwise, each EP is a balanced blend. There are quiet, coffee-shop friendly acoustic tracks, which often tell the stories of troubled, searching people from the third-person perspective (“Caroline, “She Said”). Foreman offsets these with louder, livelier tracks that would likely be exciting to see played live.
On the energetic side, “You Don’t Know How Beautiful You Are” stands out as a number that builds especially well, going from verses about humankind’s tendency to fearfully hide our true selves to a soaring, soul-stirring chorus celebrating individual beauty and calling for self-acceptance. It’s also a fine example of Foreman’s ability to write music that is informed by his deep faith in a loving God in whose image all of us are made, even when he is not addressing God or using language similar to worship songs (as Christian musicians often do).
Switchfoot fans will certainly hear some similarities in places, but there’s enough interesting instrumentation and lyrical invention in this series to prove, once again, that a Foreman is a formidable solo artist worth watching. (Banner review)