Singing in the Dark
Posted September 04, 2015
By MaryNikkel_NRT, Staff Reviewer
Darkness, the third EP of Jon Foreman's The Wonderlands series, has arrived, bringing with it subtle strings, searing questions and tunes well suited to the dark hours of the soul. This collection of songs is instantly recognizable as a progression from Shadows, picking up after sunset and twilight have faded into midnight.
"Come Home" begins the collection with a gentle melody walking over piano chords and understated percussion. The song holds one of the many thesis statements of The Wonderlands set as a whole, with Jon crooning in the chorus "this is the meaning of life: you were meant for the dance, not the fight." Poignant "She Said" carries similar themes augmented by deep throated cello, declaring hope in the face of incredible pain in a bridge that is easily some of Foreman's best writing yet: "You're the only thing that's true in this whole world of black-eyed blues and disillusioned points of view / and I won't let go. / The pain feels like a knife, but I'm not giving up on life."
Musically, this is the least fleshed out chapter so far, leaving hollow spaces in the instrumentation to match themes of searching through the empty places in our souls. Haunting stand-out "Beautiful, Pt II" is a perfect representation of this, with simple, bright acoustic guitar contrasting with eerie string tones and the aching, half-pleading lyrics "you look like a funeral, but I see right through. / You're so beautiful, you're just used to being used. / Stuck in a crucible of consume and consumed, you're so beautiful."
Despite capturing the darker hours of the day, there are songs here that speak of healing as well as wounds. "You Alone" is a bright track similar in musical voice to "Your Love is Enough," crying out in earnest prayer "I surrender any illusion of, any semblance of control / You alone can heal my soul." "June and Johnny" echoes the same whimsy that was so captivating on some of the tracks from Sunlight, a soft love song written for the middle of the night. "Larger Than Life" speaks a soul's worth in unique wording: "you're larger than life my friend, you're bigger than what you've been."
Although it's hard for a songwriter as lauded and experienced as Jon Foreman to top his own prior accomplishments, with Darkness he may have achieved just that. These introspective gems from the heart of human hope and pain shine like stars in the dark. Between the storytelling in "Beautiful, Pt II," the defiant hope of "She Said," the soul-assessing musing of "Inner Peace" and the reassurance of "You Alone," the Darkness EP showcases Jon Foreman's strength as a bard of the spiritual sojourn perhaps best yet of The Wonderlands EPs.
Musically, this project is equally strong. Drawing on production input from stellar artists like Noah Gundersen, Taylor York and Jon Howard (Paramore) and Cubbie Fink (Foster the People), every arrangement is beautifully balanced to tell the story musically as much as lyrically. This EP holds some of the strongest songs of 2015, walking the listener towards hope and the final Wonderlands installment, Dawn.
Song to Download Now:
"She Said" (Get it on iTunes here.)
View All Music And Book Reviews By MaryNikkel_NRT | View MaryNikkel_NRT's Profile