Posted October 28, 2015
By MaryNikkel_NRT, Staff Reviewer
With Dawn, the four EP musical journey into Jon Foreman's The Wonderlands draws to a conclusion. With unique but complementary strengths brought to the table with each EP, there was certainly both curiosity and anticipation built up entering the final six song installment.
Dawn proves to be the most spiritually redemptive of the EPs, harkening back to Foreman's first set of Seasons EPs with its frequent use of near-direct quotes from the Bible. "Run Free," a track calling listeners to run from shame into restorative joy, opens by quoting Isaiah 61 directly. "Inseparable" is a creative re-envisioning of Romans 8, declaring that nothing can keep us from the love of God: "not the past or the future, not the highs or the lows / neither hunger nor wealth, not in sickness or health / not the left or the right, not the day or the night / nothing can keep us away."
This collection also contains two of the most direct lovesongs of The Wonderlands. "Inheritance" is an autobiographical piece tracing Jon's history with his wife, offering the earnest and instantly memorable line "I want to be rich in memories not money, our love is our inheritance, honey." "When We Collide" features bright-eyed love poetry over shimmering acoustic guitar and piano.
Musically, the production on these tracks is the most light handed of the set, with the instrumentation left feeling mostly raw and organic. "Mercy's War," a new hymn in the tradition of old southern spirituals, utilizes simple but effective acoustic guitar, woodwinds and a choir to accentuate the old school sound. "Before Our Time" pulls on the thread of mortality that has run throughout these EPs while giving it a more joyful spin. The track features acclaimed violinist and vocalist Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek) to lend a folk vibe to the simple sonic landscape.
The joyful, musically airy tone of Dawn breathes light back into The Wonderlands after Darkness, while also providing a hopeful momentum that could easily loop back around into Sunlight. This final installment ties the masterpiece together, and (as the title would imply) proves to be the most upbeat and redemption-focused of the four EPs. Dawn also stands on its own. Jon Foreman continues to demonstrate his knack for utilizing scripture lines with so little sense of contrivance that you barely realize he's quoting well-tread ground, an ability which sheds new light on concepts that have become perhaps overly familiar. Musically, this collection captures the raw and unrestrained atmosphere of a Jon Foreman aftershow, alive with the sense that anything could happen.
Dawn provides us with a satisfying yet bittersweet conclusion to The Wonderlands, a collection of songs which has spanned the concepts of time, mortality, sorrow and redemption through some of the strongest songwriting heard all year. The now-complete set is not to be missed, providing the opportunity for many repeat journeys through the beautiful musical landscape of The Wonderlands.
Song to Download Now:
"Before Our Time" (Get it on iTunes here.)
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