As a writer, I’ve always loved Jon’s way with words. They have a simplistic beauty that is not afraid to express the truth. And it’s for that same reason (among others) that I’ve also always respected him as a writer and a musician.
So when Jon Foreman’s Sunlight EP was released on May 26, I was eager to listen.
Before discussing each song, I want to mention that Sunlight is part of an ambitious project. It’s one of four EP; Sunlight, Shadows, Darkness, Dawn. The idea was to chase the light of day for twenty-four hours with twenty-four songs, one song representing each hour of the day.
The EP begins with “Terminal,” a song about how we’re all going to die. The beginning track is about the end. I find that to be an interesting polarity for an opening. Maybe it’s a little depressing for some, but it’s true. Although, there’s more to this song then just that grim fact. Musically, this song is like an onion, or a delicious chocolate cake. It has many layers. Between the strings and cello and keys and symbols and that faint voice whispering in the background toward the end of the song, the entire production is rather complex, but comes together to create something beautiful. And it’s that faint voice that enforces the message, softly speaking:
“Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust
For our days here are like grass
We flourish like a flower of the field
The wind blows and it is gone
And its place remembers it no more
Naked we came from our mother’s womb
And naked we will depart
For we bring nothing into the world
And we cant take nothing away”
Beautiful honesty. That’s what I call it, since death is a subject few people are willing to discuss. “Terminal” brings this topic to light in a lovely way. And as I listen to beginning of the song, I’m reminded of a sunrise, of a brand new day. I’m reminded about the beginning of all things.
The opening track is followed by “The Mountain.” There’s a rustic feel to this song that begins with the first guitar chords. Jon’s soft voice breaks through the instrumentals to declaring that if we can’t move the mountain, then, we trust that there’s a higher being who can. We all have mountains, or obstacles, to face in our life, but sometimes we need a little help overcoming them. The lovely instrumentals at the end with the repeating line is not only one of my favorite parts, but also solidifies this songs motto.
“You Don’t Know How Beautiful You Are” is the anthem to the beautifully flawed people who walk this earth as well as the next song on the playlist. This song is about the flaws in humanity being made perfect in weakness. From the very beginning there’s an uplifting feeling in the melody. The truth is we all wear mask to protect ourselves, but it also prevents us from feeling joy. We all have scares. But it’s those scars that make us who we are and it’s also those same things that make us beautiful. So drop your masks and simply be yourself. Let your beauty shine. I can’t help but feel good and smile when listening to this song. There’s beauty in the lyrics, in the melody and in the reminder that YOU are beautiful.
Following the uplifting anthem of “You Don’t Know How Beautiful You Are” is the sing-songy, nostalgic lyrics of “Caroline.” And don’t you just love that harmonica? I know I certainly do. As the rhythmic lyrics bounce along we’re reminded of life’s journey while being given an emotion punch. We’re reminded of losing and gaining, of the childhood innocents we once had and that no matter how hard we try we can’t return to the past. All we can do is forge on, like the song. As the repeating line in the chorus says, “where your heart is now.” All we can really do is figure out where our heart is now and go from there. I think it’s safe to say that we all have a little bit of Caroline in us. It’s only human nature to feel all these things, to feel the nostalgic pull of the past. And on a personal note, it’s songs like this that remind me why I fell in love with Jon’s writing in the first place.
The second to last song on this EP is “Patron Saint of Rock and Roll.” It begins with an organ as if in a church or old cathedral. As this fades to other interments, Jon’s voice can be heard over other voices/chanting of the congregation during worship. Through Jon’s wonderful metaphors, direct and witty lyrics the idea that no simple religious idea will feed the hungry or help the poor or that there’s even a saint to save your soul is laid before us. There’s only one God in Heaven who works through us, His human vessels.
“All of God’s Children” is the last song on this EP and holds a deep and powerful message. We are all God’s children. Stripped down to a guitar, this songs seems simple, but as I mentioned earlier, it’s this beautiful simplicity that can drive home the honest truth that I continue to fall in love with over and over again. I’ve always found something beautiful about songs that use only a guitar. Maybe it’s the fact that the lyrics can’t hide behind all the other flashy instrumentals (although, don’t misunderstand me because I love those songs too). In songs like this the words and message are laid out before us. Underneath it all, we are all of God’s children.
When I first listened to Sunlight, I was blow away. Being familiar with Jon’s work, I knew this EP wouldn’t disappoint, but it exceeded my expectation in every way. I’m not even sure I had any expectations, but I suppose you could argue that I assumed Jon would just do his thing as an artists and everything would be lovely. Well, in that case…he delivered.
Thank you Jon for these beautiful, heartfelt songs. I’m excited to continuously enjoy Sunlight and to dive into the other EPs as they are released throughout the year.
If you haven’t listened to Sunlight, but this entry has peaked your curiosity, then, take a listen to “Caroline” and “You Don’t Know How Beautiful You Are.” Let me know what you think.