The second installment of Jon Foreman’s The Wonderlands was released on July 17th. This group of six songs came in the form of an EP entitled Shadows. If you missed my writeup of the first EP in this project, Sunlight, you can read about it here. As a quick recap, each song corresponds to a different hour of the day. In the end, the entire project will cover all 24 hours.
Shadows continues the progression of time throughout the day and accounts for the hours of 5pm – 10pm. These songs are meant to encompass the evening hours – when the light is fading, the shadows are lengthening and darkness is coming.
“Ghost Machine” kicks off the EP with a beautiful, yet haunting, opening. One of the questions I found myself asking during my initial listening was, “Who is the she?” Is it a woman? Is it a ghost? Is it a past memory haunting the mind? I’ll leave it up to you. However, if the lyrics are listened to carefully, they translate the idea of technology verses the human mind. “Ghost Machine” is short for the saying “ghost in the machine.” This is an interesting topic that has made its way into more then one of Jon’s songs. Personally, I love how these deeps questions are presented through music. And while this isn’t my favorite song on the EP, it comes pretty close (not that I like choosing favorites anyway) and the haunting sing-song melody will lock this tune into your head.
The second track is “My Coffin.” I absolutely love the opening of this song, but also enjoy good instrumentals, so I might be a bit bias. Melodically, I find this song easy to listen to, as I feel like I can close my eyes and float along with the notes. The message I take away from this song is one that I find beautiful, even though it’s about death. We never truly know where we go once we die, no matter what we believe. This song asks that very question while dealing with the the age old thoughts of death before life and life after death. In the end, listening to the lyrics, the key is the hope of resurrection. This is the light, the purest form of life that prevails over the darkness.
“Fake Your Own Death” is, well, about death. But it’s also about a lot more then just dying. I think the idea and lyrics behind the song are brilliant. Oddly enough death is part of life. We seem to fear death, but once death had occurred what is there to fear? Or maybe we are afraid of living? It’s strange to think about faking your own death, but once you do there’s a fullness to life. There’s nothing left to be afraid of and, therefore, we can fully live. We only have one life and we shouldn’t be afraid to live it. So once death is behind us maybe we can truly live and maybe even come alive for the first time. (Also, the middle instrumental section is beautiful.)
The next track is called “Good For Me,” which has a bit of a darker sound and a great bass rhythm. The truth is that our choices aren’t always black and white (although it would be easier if they were) so it’s hard to say if all the choices we make are good for us. Our choices define us, shape us as people, but no one can tell us if they are good or bad. Ultimately, we are the only ones who can decide. I’ve listened to Jon’s music for years and I find this track unlike anything that he’s released in his career so far. And I mean that in a good way.
“Your Love Is Enough” is simply a beautiful song. From the lyrics to the graceful melody, this is an uplifting tune and a true winner in my book. After all the thoughts about death and all the questions of life it’s nice to hear a song like this, ones who message is simple – your love, Jesus’ love, is enough. “You’re my harbor in this lonely storm,” rings out in the chorus. So during the storms of life, the difficult times, He is always there and the place we run to for safety. It’s a beautiful song that warms my heart with every listen.
The last track is “Siren’s Song.” After a couple listens this is probably my favorite song on the Shadows EP. (Although it is hard to choose since I enjoyed it in its entirety and each song had something special about it.) This song uses the ocean as a metaphor for sirens. Much like these mythological creatures he can’t resist the call of the ocean. He wants it. He needs it. And it’s there to greet him with open arms. And for someone who loves the ocean as much as I do, this song will capture your heart. I know it has mine.
Overall, Shadows is an honest, beautiful work of art with lovely instrumentals that carries you through from beginning to end. The difference from Sunlight can be heard, as the sun is setting and shadows are appearing and stretching across the land, although, Jon’s knack for writing never dwindled. The lyrics are still superb. This is Shadows.
The next installment of The Wonderlands is entitled Darkness. I’m interested to hear what the hours of dark sound like, but for now I shall live in the land of Sunlight and Shadows. Won’t you please come join me?
If this post peaked your interest of the Shadows EP feel free to listen to the two sample songs below. Also, if you wish to visit my post about the Sunlight EP there are two sample songs there as well.