In 2008, San Diego rocker Jon Foreman released four EPs. Named after each season, they carried a distinctive sound and chronicled his thoughts on life, love and everything in between. His EP, Spring, came out in March that year, and of the 24 tracks he released, this EP included some of his most iconic to date.
I first heard Jon Foreman perform at Heavy and Light in January this year. For a man who’s had worldwide success with Switchfoot, he was incredibly unassuming. He carried his guitar with a gentle confidence and had the air of someone who was very much at home on the stage. There was no backing band, just a man and his guitar. The simplicity of his performance mesmerised me, and on hearing this EP I was delighted to find the same authenticity enfolded in each track.
“March (A Prelude To Spring),” is a jovial acoustic track that ushers you into the season of spring. The combination of Jon’s vocals with the female harmony brings lightness to the track reminiscent of the season, and strings, percussion and brass dance across the melody. A simple track crafted with great intentionality, you can envision the flowers blooming and birds flying through the sky with each note.
This then takes us to, “Love Isn’t Made,” a stirring tune that will make you feel like the sun is rising. Using acoustic guitar and strings, this carries a more serious tone than the opening track. A simple percussion section lies beneath the melody, and this makes way for a sing-along about not defining love by distance or conflict. The simple repetition of the words, “Don’t let the panic bring you down,” makes it a song unique to the listener, and there is a sense that Jon is using the metaphor of spring to highlight the beauty of love.
“In My Arms,” strips everything back to an acoustic guitar and the lead vocal. An intimate song both musically and lyrically, the introduction of a tambourine hints at new possibilities and pure, sweet love. The following song comes with new vigour, and “Baptize My Mind” uses an electric guitar to orchestrate a melody that makes you feels like you have stepped into the sunlight. More upbeat than the previous tracks, there is an eclectic use of sounds that go into this song.
In this track we see Foreman stepping between the quirky instrumental and the gentle delivery of lyrics. His expertise as a musician comes to light as he balances these intersecting elements to reinforce the lyrical content. Saying, “For the seeds to give birth to life, first they must die,” Jon calls on core Biblical principles about redemption and absolution with a rare simplicity, and he makes the often foreign concepts tangible to the listener. In an EP filled with standout tracks, this is one of the best.
“Your Love Is Strong,” follows this, and without a doubt I would say this is one of the strongest songs on all four of Jon’s EPs. Mixing his acoustic guitar with a simple piano melody, this is a stunning rendition of the Lord’s Prayer. On first hearing this song live, I was taken by how intimate it was. Far from being a religious song, this is a deeply introspective prayer that brings the color of Foreman’s lyrics to the foreground. Elegant, simple, classy…it is hard to find the words to describe this song. But the light and shade as Jon takes us through the story of redemption is enthralling, and you will treasure every moment on hearing it.
Concluding the EP with “Revenge,” a laid back tune ushers in the end of the season. Melancholy in tone, it is a brutally honest take on the desire for revenge. Saying, “I drew first blood,” it challenges us to repay pain with mercy, and focuses on the shadows of humanity. Ever pointing to the opportunity for redemption, this song is a unique but somehow fitting conclusion to the EP.
Spring will make you feel the wonder and merriment of a new season. Jon Foreman’s ability as a lyricist is second to none, and he paints vast, beautiful stories within the six tracks of this EP. Challenging, poignant and honest, 6 years after its release, Spring still shows Jon Foreman at his finest.