Jon Foreman plays with all the hours in a day on ambitious yet intimate ‘The Wonderlands’

TICKING AWAY – Jon Foreman previously experimented with concepts based around time by releasing an EP for each season in 2008. 

On Oct. 23, Jon Foreman gave his fans the final installment of “The Wonderlands,” the Switchfoot frontman’s second solo EP compilation. It has been 10 years in the making and consists of songs that never quite found a home on a Switchfoot album. “The Wonderlands,” like his last project, is in four parts: “Sunlight,” “Shadows,” “Darkness” and “Dawn.” His first solo release represented the four seasons.

Foreman now focuses on giving each hour of the day a unique melody. He calls it his “opus of light and darkness.” The idea developed from the artist connecting certain songs to certain times of day. Some songs feel as if they should be played first thing in the morning, late at night, when the sun is setting and so on. His poignant voice reaches fans again but this time with more heart-wrenching, thought-provoking pieces. Jon, with 24 producers, diligently composed a soundtrack for an entire day.

The first EP, “Sunlight,” starts with the track “Terminal” (11 a.m.). As the melody strolls in, the ethereal plucking of the guitar simulates the sun rising. You can picture the twinkling of night shifting to day as Foreman’s voice slowly creeps in over the beat. The songs on this EP gradually get lighter until it peaks at “You Don’t Know How Beautiful You Are” (1 p.m.). The album then slinks back into more mellow and serious tracks.

“Shadows” is a more reflective set of songs that address death and fear with blatant honesty. While “My Coffin” (6 p.m.) is comparatively upbeat, it is not exactly lighthearted. The sureness of death is not something most of us want to think about, but somehow Foreman can write a song about such a sinister thing and make it beautiful. “Shadows” is the holding place for insecurities and those times in life when we shrink into sadness, when the sun is setting on times of peace in our lives.

“Darkness” houses the sleepy songs, but the lyrics are more hopeful. Those hours of the night all look the same, therefore the songs on the EP have similar tempos and melodies. While this can be repetitive, it supports the theme of the project. The EP finishes with “Inner Peace” (5 a.m.). The opening line reads, “Inner peace is hard to find.” Foreman has a knack for hitting right to the heart but not offending. Instead, it stirs something up inside you.

Finally, “Dawn” jumps right into “Inheritance” (6 a.m.), a sweet love song with cheery strumming. The song picks up after the first line, much like the instant the sun crosses over the horizon. It represents a new day. Darkness is gone. We made it. Each song sounds like the peaceful stirring you feel when you open your eyes and realize a whole day is ahead of you.

Jon achieved greatness yet again. Each song creates the right frame of mind to match the gradients of light and darkness. He composed an earnest journey for the listener to take. Thankfully these lost souls found a home in “The Wonderlands.”