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JFH Music Review

Jon Foreman, The Wonderlands: Shadows

Jon Foreman
The Wonderlands: Shadows

Artist Info: Discography
Genre(s): Acoustic / Folk / Pop
Album length: 6 tracks: 25 minutes, 36 seconds
Street Date: July 17, 2015


It was less than two months ago that The Wonderlands EP series from
Jon Foreman began with the first installment, Sunlight. And just like that, we're already back with EP number two in The Wonderlands series, this time titled, Shadows. With twelve more new tracks from Jon Foreman leaving their mark this summer, it can be easy to take these songs for granted, but EPs like Shadows aren't a dime a dozen.

Shadows lives up to its darker and brooding name, though not necessarily in the most obvious of ways. While yes, song titles like "The Ghost Machine," "My Coffin," and "Fake Your Own Death" don't exactly inspire much optimism at first, their messages reveal a sharper-edged reality that deserves some respect. While lines like "you can fake your own death and instead of dying, you might come alive" ("Fake Your Own Death") or "all hail the siren of our time/I'm possessed when she passes by/...I swear she's going to make a dead man out of me" ("The Ghost Machine") might come off as foreboding at first, it all goes together with the underlying theme of examining one's mortality to awaken the realities of the present's choices. It's a conscious attempt to use the darker side to produce a brighter picture. After all, as Foreman's fans already know, the shadow proves the sunshine.

Musically, Shadows is just like Sunlight in that every song feels like both its own event and as an integral part of the greater whole. This time, however, everything feels murkier, and unsurprisingly so. Even the upbeat "My Coffin" has a taste of caution. "Fake Your Own Death" includes some jazz instrumentation underneath its mysterious aura. What might be the most unusual track here, however, is the deeply self-reflective "Good For Me," which prominently features mariachi horns. The similarly-themed "Sirens Song" is backed by a lovely orchestral arrangement, produced by Future of Forestry's Eric Owyoung. What will likely end up being the most publically memorable track from Shadows is "Your Love Is Enough." Co-produced by Foreman and CCM extraordinaire Seth Mosley, it seems in the same vein as other worship favorites "Your Love is Strong" and "White As Snow," and though it's comparatively simple to the rest of the EP, it's not without full emotion that makes the entire track swell with power.

Shadows is an unavoidably drearier listen than some, but it never lacks the character that always comes with Foreman's songwriting. The intricate composition makes the most of the six tracks, too, and it's most assuredly an EP that merits many listens to unwrap each emotional layer. Hopeful, but never dishonest, Shadows is another solid entry from Foreman, and the first half of The Wonderlands is wonderful indeed.

- Review date: 7/12/15, written by Roger Gelwicks of

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JFH Staff's Second Opinion

Less than two months ago, listeners were welcomed to The Wonderlands, Jon Foreman's latest project, and it was a warm welcome indeed. This second chapter, Shadows, has continued the eclectic sounds that Foreman introduced fans to on the preceding EP, Sunlight. Songs like "Ghost Machine," "My Coffin" and "Good for Me" have a post-grunge sound that is reminiscent of Smashing Pumpkins and REM but with a little more restraint. "Fake Your Own Death" is a completely introspective look at living a life without the fear of death. The music is rich and ethereal without overpowering the vocals, but complements them perfectly so that the message of the song is clearly understood. One major thing that fans will be pleased with is the worshipful "Your Love is Enough." Let me be clear, it's no "Your Love is Strong," but it is a beautiful yet simple song of adoration to the Lord. The album closes with the dreamy "Sirens Song." Musically, it feels like Foreman is metaphorically transitioning from the shadows into the next chapter, "Darkness." A little side note about the track: its melody in the bridge resembles something that could have been heard on one of The Hunger Games films. Without a doubt, the EP has a very melancholy overtone - which is what should be expected with a title such as Shadows. This isn't to say that the release is down-trodden or depressing; it's very reflective on the human condition of fear, insecurity, and depravity. In addition, Foreman points listeners to the only one who is enough to replace those emotions/realities - as he says simply, "Here in my maker's arms I find my soul, here in my maker's arms, finally whole." The direction of The Wonderlands hasn't been what was expected, but it is most definitely a great adventure thus far. I'm looking forward to what lies in ahead. - Review date: 7/16/15, written by Ryan Barbee of


JFH Staff's Additional 2 Cents

    Great photographers realize that the most memorable pictures are often the result of the perfect juxtaposition of darkness and light. And great songwriters, like Jon Foreman, realize that the same rule applies when it comes to creating extraordinary works of music. A veritable study in the ever-present struggle between the spirit and the flesh, Foremans's latest EP, like so much of his previous work, finds him laying out his own setbacks and longings in language that, even at its most desperate points, never ceases to be less than thoroughly engaging and, yet, ultimately inspiring.

On the darker side of the palette, the sparkling folk/Americana piece, "Ghost Machine," hits the bulls eye right off the bat, with its startlingly accurate summation of modern-day idolatry, drawing from language that is both contemporary (I'm still haunted by the faces on her screen) and Old Testamental (Then I've been sprinkling the blood of most my life/ On the altars of my ghost machine). The foreboding "Good for Me" (Are you forgiveness or the chain?/ Are you liberty or chains?) and the ethereal closing number, "Sirens Song," are even more unsettling with their unvarnished looks at the subjects of temptation and addiction.

Lest the listener be tempted to wallow in their own despair, Foreman wisely balances his more somber fare with the indie-pop-inclined "My Coffin," which, despite its slightly macabre title, offers a positively uplifting look at life in the hereafter. Along those same lines, many of Foreman's most directly-spiritual treatises are laid to paper on his solo projects, as is certainly the case on "Your Love Is Enough," whose lyrics (Here in my maker's arms/ I find my soul/ I'm finally home) stand among the talented songwriter's most upliftingly beautiful to date.

Neither quite as instantly accessible as his Switchfoot-based back catalog nor as consistently quirky as the bulk of the material on his previous seasonally-themed EPs, Shadows will likely take some getting used to for fans of both of those sets of work. But like just about everything he's done on his own over the course of the last nine years, his newest solo effort offers the greatest reward for those willing to drop their preconceptions of what the average song from a Christian pop singer should sound and read like and simply listen with open minds and ears. Those who do will find that it is Foreman's willingness to color outside the lines of convention, perhaps more than anything else, which continues to render his solo-based efforts so absolutely unforgettable. - 8/7/15, Bert Gangl of



. Record Label: Lowercase People / Word Records
. Album length: 6 tracks: 25 minutes, 36 seconds
. Street Date: July 17, 2015
. Buy It: iTunes
. Buy It: Amazon Music (MP3)
. Buy It: (Both EP's on CD)

  1. Ghost Machine (5:09)
  2. My Coffin (4:12)
  3. Fake Your Own Death (4:05)
  4. Good For Me (4:53)
  5. Your Love Is Enough (3:44)
  6. Sirens Song (3:36)
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