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JFH Music Review

Jon Foreman, The Wonderlands: Darkness

Jon Foreman
The Wonderlands: Darkness

Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Acoustic / Folk / Pop
Album length: 7 tracks: 27 minutes, 58 seconds
Street Date: September 4, 2015


With the third installment in The Wonderlands series, Jon Foreman returns with Darkness, a striking juxtaposition of discouragement and resilience. Using familiar accounts of human experience to personify the music he so masterfully crafts, Foreman attempts to illuminate the necessary space between Shadows and Dawn.

The EP opens with "Come Home," a conspicuous and foreboding track on which Foreman attests, "nothing hurts worse / than hope that's deferred," effectively setting the stage for the tales of darkness to follow. "Beautiful, Pt. II" is one such story, centered around a girl struggling to find comfort in physical appearance by "brushing on her bravest eyes." Similarly, "She Said" depicts a scene of desperation and despair, a soul whose only option is to wait. While these songs and their accompanying instrumentation directly support the precedent set by Foreman's album title, they seem to contrast the remainder of the album. For instance, "You Alone," "Larger Than Life" and "June & Johnny" impart unexpected reassurance, focusing on the faith and perseverance required to overcome life's obstacles rather than the struggle itself. Inevitably, the sun rises again with "Inner Peace," which concludes with a resolution: "I'm looking for the one that made me."

Impressive narration and undeniable songwriting talent aside, The Wonderlands: Darkness is a curious release. Throughout the EP, Foreman drifts between creative expansion and disorganization, which is perhaps most apparent in the inconsistency of tone as the album progresses. Alternating solemn hardship with upbeat glimpses of hope, Foreman largely forfeits consistency and, consequently, the lasting impact on listeners that other Wonderlands EPs convey. While there is something to be said for the chosen album structure, its effect is similar to a flashlight being brought into a darkened movie theater; the material is notable but the environment does not always serve it well.

Ultimately, Darkness may be the weakest of The Wonderlands releases for reasons unrelated to individual songwriting. With a diverse selection of tracks, Foreman delivers an enjoyable experience that is unfortunately too unbalanced to endorse the artist's overall theme. While this EP will certainly play an essential part in the larger collection of devoted fans, newcomers should be directed back to the light.

- Review date: 11/29/15, written by Jeremy Barnes of

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JFH Staff's Second Opinion

If Jon Foreman's newest four­part brainchild, The Wonderlands, played out like any good story usually does, then Darkness, as its name suggests, brings us to the lowest point of this four-act play. And, for the most part, aside from a couple of missteps, the mood of the music wonderfully fits the understandably somber subject matter. Opening track, "Come Home," sets the stage with an enthralling, immersive arrangement that paradoxically feels darkly encouraging during the chorus. This transitions into the more tender strums of "Beautiful (Part II)," which tells a gloomy tale of a girl struggling to find beauty through pain, but, in the chorus, there's a sliver of hope ("You're trying to look like a funeral; but I see right through; you're so beautiful"). "You Alone" feels a bit brighter with its complex intertwining notes and a desperate cry for healing. "She Said" has a folksy feel, musically, nicely paired with an honest confession of suffering. "Larger Than Life" is another highlight track, with a riveting string section combined with lyrics that are a loving push for change ("Please stop, please stop your white lies; we both know neither of us need them; rise up, rise like the blue skies"). My only issue with this album is that the song "June & Johnny," while great, just feels too bright and poppy to fit on such a dark and melancholy release. It would have worked much better on Sunlight or Shadows instead of pulling the listener away from the overall theme that Darkness conveys. "Inner Peace" ends this chapter in a very fitting way, being reflective, but offering just enough hopefulness to perfectly set up for Dawn. It closes out with a realization of brokenness, followed by Foreman's soothing declaration ("I'm looking for the One that made me"). When all is said and done, aside from one mild slip­up, Darkness is an engaging experience that draws us closer to the finale of the Wonderlands saga.

- Review date: 11/23/15, written by Dylan O'Connor of


. Record Label: Lowercase People / Word Records
. Album length: 7 tracks: 27 minutes, 58 seconds
. Street Date: September 4, 2015
. Buy It: iTunes
. Buy It: Amazon Music (MP3)

  1. Come Home (4:52)
  2. Beautiful (5:16)
  3. You Alone (3:53)
  4. She Said (4:24)
  5. Larger Than Life (3:57)
  6. June & Johnny (2:37)
  7. Inner Peace (3:03)






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