Soul-stirring and stunning| Posted February 11, 2021 What You Need to Know This long-awaited solo project Departures by Switchfoot’s front man Jon Foreman has captivated my spirit. The album includes standout recordings like the sing at the top of your lungs anthems “Education” and “Red and Gold,” and the reflective and worshipful vibe of “Side by Side,” “A Place Called Earth,” “Jesus, I Have My Doubts” and “Thanks Be To God.”
What it Sounds Like From my first listen, I wanted to tell others about this great new album which immediately reminded me of some of my favorite emotional alternative rock artists like The Fray, Lifehouse, and Switchfoot’s softer songs. The project opens with “The Ocean Beyond the Sea” which has a reflective and ambient vibe and it builds to an exciting refrain that stirs my soul. I'm really engaged by Jon's emotional vocals and the sincere, enthusiastic and introspective lyrics throughout the album. “Education” is layered with an upbeat alt-rock musical style. The song will have you singing along in one listen. “You lose yourself when you love someone/You lose yourself and you come undone,” is the refrain of the catchy song, which is in some ways the thesis statement of this stellar album.
Spiritual Highlights I can't get enough of the stand-out song “A Place Called Earth.” Jon's emotive vocals and the Kingdom-focused lyrics takes me on an emotional journey that causes me to excitedly worship along with the stirring lyrics every time I hear the song. It also features Lauren Daigle and expresses Jon’s emotional plea, “Oh I long for heaven in a place called earth/Where every son and daughter will know their worth." From the beginning notes of “Jesus, I Have My Doubts,” I was hooked by the reflective musical vibe and prayerful message. The song declares bold confessional and prayerful statements: "Jesus, has the world gone mad? Jesus, feels like the world's in pieces/I'm sure You've got Your reasons/But I've got my doubts/Jesus, I've got my doubts." The song is a gorgeous offering in the style of David’s Psalms. Other spiritual highlights are found in “Thanks Be To God” with the refrain, “Thanks be to God who delivers me, Christ, Christ alone come and set me free.”
Best Song on the Record All these songs are poignant and powerful with earnest lyrics sung from the perspective of someone like David in the Psalms or Solomon in Ecclesiastes. “Side By Side” is a beautiful song featuring Madison Cunningham, with Jon displaying emotive vocals with the comforting refrain sung as a duet, “You and I will find the ocean we come from.” “Red and Gold” expresses words of comfort, “So hold your faith, you're not alone here/Stay your pace, you're almost home.” The aforementioned “A Place Called Earth” stopped me in my tracks and caused me to immediately replay the song. You’ll get swept up in the emotion and message of the song, causing your heart to ache for heaven. It’s my early choice for song of the year.
Final Word This is a great collection of confessional and authentic expressions of faith. The songs are poignant and powerful. There are no filler tracks, and this is easily one of my top “gourmet” albums of the year. If you want to experience an uplifting, soul-stirring, stunning and introspective album, look no further than Jon Foreman. These songs will certainly connect with listeners and showcase the multi-talented singer/songwriter's trademark balance of vocal tenderness and intensity, and, above all, a sense of hope and inspiration. This is an incredibly deep, worshipful and emotional album, and Departures is one of my top albums of the year.
Jon Foreman's Best Solo Work Yet| Posted February 12, 2021
This is the first solo album for the multi-talented leader of Switchfoot, after releasing multiple EPs, the latest being 2015’s four EP collection The Wonderlands. The album features 12 new songs, which I assume were all written by Foreman. The mostly acoustic songs feature excellent musicianship, and I particularly liked his use of strings.
Foreman has said that this is an album “born out of the turmoil and desperation of the last year, (and this year, too). It’s an album that's born from the journey, not the destination.” This is an excellent album with themes such as doubt, fears, lessons learned, thanksgiving, love, loss, and those things that really matter. I’ve always enjoyed Foreman’s solo work, and feel that this is his strongest release to date.
Below are a few comments about each song: The Ocean Beyond The Sea – This opening song is somewhat different musically from what we normally get from Foreman, and it’s actually my least favorite on a very strong album. The song builds as he sings softly about forests, valleys and highways. The song features some excellent strings.
Key lyric: Beyond the tyrant Beyond the sirens
Beyond the silence
I heard a whisper
As soft as thunder
As cold as fire
By the ocean beyond the sea Education – This is an upbeat song, with a good drum beat, guitar, horns and backing vocals. Foreman has said that the lessons that have stuck with him most in life have been the ones that have cost him pain, time and loss. He sings that the scars are teachers that you're never gonna forget. Love is the hardest lesson you have to learn.
Key lyric: Most things worth doing in this life Are gonna kill you in the end And the things worth fighting for Are the things that you can't defend Side By Side – This easy-going love song features Madison Cunningham. The song features acoustic guitar and bass. Foreman’s and Cunningham’s voices blend well.
They are as different as snowflakes, but side by side they start to melt into something wonderful. Foreman has said that the song is an attempt to sing out the truth against a backdrop of his fears and doubts.
Key lyric: Oh, the irony, friends and enemies We'll all be buried side-by-side A Place Called Earth – This song was written by Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman and Lauren Daigle. Daigle sings the third verse, and her and Foreman’s voices blend well on the chorus. He longs for Heaven on a place called Earth, where every son and daughter will know their worth. The song features piano, strings, drums, bass and acoustic guitar.
Key lyric: Oh, how I long for Heaven in a place called Earth Where every son and daughter would know their worth
Where all the streets resound with thunderous joy Red And Gold – This song features acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, drums, strings and backing vocals. The song was inspired as Foreman was on a hill in San Diego watching the sun go down and the car lights on the freeway below. The city glows, the traffic and rushing, of thirsty souls, hungry for meaning and love.
Key lyric: So, hold your faith, you're not alone here Stay your pace, you're almost home
We're on our way, we're on our way home Jesus, I Have My Doubts – Foreman has said that this is a song that steps into the ring with God. It is him asking the big questions at the end of a long, difficult season. It’s his honest attempt to sing into his doubts. The song features acoustic guitar, electric guitar, bass, strings and light percussion. He’s been singing broken songs looking for the light for so long, but the pain goes on and on. Can God reach him in the silence?
Key lyric: Jesus, feels like the world's in pieces I'm sure You've got Your reasons
But I have my doubts
Jesus, I have my doubts Thanks Be To God – This worship song of thanksgiving features strings, synth, drums, acoustic guitar, piano and bass. He loves the truth and has seen the light, but there is still sin (shadow) alive inside (Romans 7).
Key lyric: Christ, Christ alone come and set me free Thanks be to God who delivers me The Gift – The beautiful song features acoustic guitar and strings. Our lives go through change, and love is what remains (1 Corinthians 13). The question is whether we will recognize the gift before it's gone.
Key lyric: May the wind that blows the hardest bring you home Weight Of The World – This song addresses his doubt as he asks where God is now. He doesn’t understand how these difficult times fit into God’s plans. The song features acoustic guitar, light percussion, bass and some excellent strings.
Key lyric: I’ve been waiting for Your capable hands to come down
I’ve been praying for
Your capable hands to come down and turn this around
Your capable hands
Could carry the weight of the world Love Is The Rebel Song – After a short opening, this musically upbeat song features acoustic guitar, backing vocals, strings and drums. Even if hate is the loudest song, he refuses to sing along. In a world at war love is the rebel song.
Key lyric: Sing to me a melody for the ones who will never win Songs of dreamers In-betweeners the ones that will never fit in
Where the wars go on and on
Love is the rebel song The Valley Of The Shadow Of Planned Obsolescence – On this song, Foreman is feeling disposable and old. He’s looking back at old girlfriends, friends, social media, his music CD’s, and the Internet, the things he used to prize. He encourages us to focus on the things that will last (relationships), singing What would we do if we finally saw the light? If we dropped this accursed pride could we make amends? The song features cello, horns, acoustic guitar, whistle and a stringed instrument.
Key lyric: On the day my heart beat dies I want to be with you
The rest is just pretend
Just make believe Last Words – This song seems to be about a friend who died in the COVID-19 pandemic, as the song begins and ends with ambulance sirens. None of the words he heard made sense of his friend leaving. The song features acoustic guitar, synth, backing vocals, light percussion and bass.
Key lyric: Your last words to me were keep breathing So I’m breathing in the breath you left behind Best Songs
A Place Called Earth
Jesus, I Have My Doubts
Weight of the World
Love is the Rebel Song
The Valley of the Shadow of Planned Obsolescence