Everyone is searching for that one record to listen continuously to, without ever getting tired of. For most of last year that album for me was John Mayer’s Continuum. I would bring my CD player (yes, I still used that until my recent iShuffle birthday gift from friends . . . call me old school, but I still would so much rather pick up the latest album from a music store than buy it off iTunes) back and forth on my hour-long bus rides to my internships in New York.
Currently, I’ve been listening to Jon Foreman’s latest EP, Winter, and as of right now, I can’t stop listening to it - on bus rides to my job in the city, at work and when I’m at home working on my blog. With all the music on the radio and surrounding the music industry today, Jon’s latest EP’s Fall and Winter are a breath of fresh air. Winter is probably the most pure, acoustic-sounding record I’ve ever listened to. From guitar, cello and violin features to harmonica, horns and bass clarinet accompaniment the listener really gets the feel that she is right there watching him play these songs live from his home, which I think was what he was trying to get across in these “home recordings.” I’ll write a review of his latest EP, Winter below, but be sure to check out the songs for yourself on his MySpace or purchase each EP for $5 on his website, jonforeman.com.
While the EP has its more somber songs, such as dealing with the thought of death or a homeless woman who dies alone, it definitely is a compilation of songs that makes you think, whether its about your own life or the lives of others in this world. Jon is a great storyteller throughout his songs and when the last chord is finished you're left thinking about that song well after it’s over, a feat that demonstrates just how great a musician he is.
“Learning How To Die” starts off the EP with a simple bass clarinet and acoustic guitar with Jon shortly joining in and singing, “I’m gonna miss you, I’m gonna miss you when you’re gone.” It seems to be the story of a conversation with a friend who is talking about death while he doesn’t want “to talk about the end, and how every living thing goes away.” Very simple rhythm, but so deep in meaning.
The next track, “In Love,” may be my favorite song on the EP, mainly because of the beautiful intro. It sounds like it’s from a part of another culture, almost Middle Eastern or Asian sounding with the instruments played, first strings and then the bass clarinet coming in right before he chants, “In love, in life, in love, in you, in love, in death my love.” It’s just a very relaxing, calming song to listen to.
“White As Snow” seems to be a type of a prayer song he sings. The piece begins slowly with a string feature while Jon starts off the song by singing, "Have mercy on me oh God/according to your unfailing love, according to your great compassion/blot out my transgressions."
Stand out song on the EP is “Somebody’s Baby” – a tale of a homeless woman struggling to get by in life alone, who later dies alone, strangely enough on her birthday. The lyrics are so moving while the strings and soft guitar rhythm featured throughout definitely help with the songs deep, somber feel. Lyrics such as “When the people don't want you, they just throw you money for beer” get this feeling across. Even though she may be homeless and completely alone Jon sings, “she's somebody's baby, somebody's baby girl/she's somebody's baby, somebody's baby girl and she's somebody's baby still.” He continues with the heartbreaking story while singing, “She dreams about heaven remembering hell as a nightmare she visits and knows all too well.” By far the most emotion-filled song on Winter, Jon demonstrates this feeling throughout the lyrics of the song.
Overall, the EP has strong vocals and guitar sound from Jon, already familiar to many Switchfoot fans, but there is much more openness and honesty showcased from him on this EP. From “Behind Your Eyes,” a soothing acoustic guitar-driven track of wanting to see life through another person's eyes to “I Am Still Running,” a song with lyrics such as “build me a home inside your scars/build me a home inside your song/build me a home inside your open arms/the only place I ever will belong,” Jon showcases his versatility. I'm excited to see what Spring will bring.