The second full-length partnership of Jon Foreman (Switchfoot) and Sean Watkins (Nickel Creek, Works Progress Administration), Fiction Family Reunion, sees these two distinctive artists once again offering up their idiosyncratic blend of folk flavor, classic pop arrangements, and expertly etched songcraft. Where 2009’s self-titled debut was almost entirely self-created by the two musician/songwriters working in their own home studios, the sophomore album finds the duo joined by touring bassist Tyler Chester and drummer Aaron Redfield, both now full-fledged Family members. With Foreman and Watkins leading on vocals, guitars, and any other instrument that might happen to strike their fancy, Fiction Family have conjured a remarkably rich collection defined by its collaborative chemistry. Songs such as the tender “Damaged” and the soulful first single, “Up Against The Wall,” reverberate with lyrical resonance and sonic ingenuity, the extraordinary natural sound of a gifted band in full flight.
Fiction Family Reunion was recorded at Switchfoot’s Spot X Studio in Carlsbad, CA over a series of sessions spanning 2010 to early 2012, the lengthy process necessitated by Foreman and Watkins’ always busy schedules. A family in more than just name only, the band was joined on a number of tracks by Nickel Creek fiddle player Sara Watkins and multi-instrumentalist John Mark Painter.
Foreman and Watkins first became fast friends when Switchfoot and Nickel Creek shared the top of the bill at their hometown music festival, San Diego’s famed Street Scene. E-mail addresses were exchanged and the duo began writing songs with little goal other than that of two friends sharing the joy of making music together. Recording proved the obvious next step and in 2009, Fiction Family’s eponymous debut album was released to both popular success and critical fanfare. “(Foreman and Watkins) make a pretty solid team,” noted Paste, continuing, “Foreman is an excellent writer, singer and arranger, and Watkins’ accompaniment on harmony vocals, guitar, bass, keys -- even mandolin, ukulele and 12-string -- lighten the intensity and add a rich earthiness.” NPR’s Ken Tucker praised Fiction Family as “delicate, industrious, and intricate,” with Billboard hailing its songs as “richly crafted and intriguingly rendered.” Slant commended “the duo's intricate vocal harmonies...and stately chamber-pop arrangement(s),” while the Washington Post ruled the album to be “a solid set of near-duets from two diverse, accomplished musicians.” “Foreman and Watkins have been able to produce something truly different from what they have done in the past,” proclaimed AbsolutePunk.net, applauding Fiction Family as “a collection of finely-crafted, well-thought out tunes (from) one of music's most talented guitarists and one of its most gifted songwriters.”