Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

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Jon Foreman DawnMusic Review 

The Wonderlands: Dawn – Jon Foreman
This is the final of four Wonderlands EPs from Switchfoot lead singer, guitarist and primary songwriter Jon Foreman, and follows Sunlight released in late May, Shadows in July and Darkness in September. The four “hourly” EPs were to each feature six songs, or one song for each hour of the day – though Darkness actually featured seven songs. Foreman indicated that he wanted “to sneak 25 songs into 24 hours.”

Each song on the project, that has been 10 years and more than 1,000 hours in the making, is co-produced with someone different. So there are 25 songs and 25 producers, certainly a unique approach from the always creative Foreman. He has stated in an interview that his collaborators would send him back their musical response: bass, clarinet, background vocals, etc. His challenge was to put those things together and make it sound like a cohesive statement rather than 25 different projects. Every hour had to be distinct and yet still feel like a cohesive body of work. Foreman celebrated the complete release of The Wonderlands by performing 25 shows in 24 hours in his hometown of San Diego on October 24 (which was in progress as I was writing this review), with proceeds benefiting charities.

Foreman had stated that the Wonderlands EPs would explore themes of faith and doubt, love and frustration, and everything else. I noted that Dawn has more explicit Christian lyrics than the earlier EPs in the Wonderland series. Below are brief comments and favorite lyrics on each of the six new songs:

Inheritance – This song begins with acoustic guitar then builds with light drums, instrumentation and backing vocals. It is a lovely song about the story of his relationship with his wife Emily, whose heart he sings, is a work of art. In the beginning they didn’t have anything to offer each other except for the rest of their lives.

I wanna be rich in memories, not money
Our love is our inheritance, honey

Run Free – This joyful song starts out with Foreman singing a paraphrase of Luke 4:18. It features keyboards, light drums, light brass, strings and backing vocals. Foreman just can’t keep quiet as he invites the listeners to run free and dance like a prisoner released. He sings of the Lord taking our shame away.

Inseparable – This songs is based on Romans 8:35-39, where Paul responds to the question “What shall separate us from the love of Christ?” Foreman sings of the love of his Savior.

Nothing can keep us away
Nothing can separate

The song features acoustic guitar, light drums, strings and echoing vocals.

When We Collide – This is another song written to his wife Emily. He writes that when they met their world was black and white. He’s waiting for the day when they collide. It features an interesting almost chime sound, light drums and backing vocals.

We’ve got our disagreements
Our separate points of view
But the line that runs between us
Could be the thread that pulls us through

Mercy’s War – This wonderful song has Foreman singing of the wonderful blood of Jesus and how “Because they broke you I am whole”. He sings that he went looking for ways out, but Christ showed him the way in. He thought Christ was a stranger, but instead Christ called him out by name. The song features a slow strumming acoustic guitar, a very likeable clarinet, and choir-like backing vocals.

Before Our Time – The last of the 25 songs in The Wonderlands series is an upbeat song about time with Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek. The catchy musical backing on the song reminds me of the Getty’s “Greengrass” (Irish and Nashville) fusion. About the song, Foreman has said “And then the whole thing ends on another song about the clock called “Before Our Time”, talking about things before our time runs out. And so that’s the way it ends, kind of the way it began, focus on the clock.”

Time is illusion
Time is a curse
Time is all these things and worse
But our time is now
Our time is now

Let us sing before our time runs out

Dawn is a great way to end “the day” with Jon Foreman. It’s definitely my favorite of the four Wonderlands EPs. Highly recommended.

I’ve heard that a box set containing all 25 songs will be released. At this time, the physical editions of Darkness and Dawn and Sunlight and Shadows are available for purchase on Amazon.

Music News:

  • He Shall Reign Forevermore. Watch this performance of Chris Tomlin’s new single from his new Christmas album Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship, which he co-write with Matt Maher.
  • Behind the Album Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship. Chris Tomlin talks about his new live Christmas album Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship, live worship album recorded in the same location he recorded his first Christmas album Glory in the Highest six years ago.
  • New Steve Camp Album. One of my all-time favorite artists Steve Camp recently reported that he is in Los Angeles to work on his new record with friend and producer Tim Miner.
  • I Believe. Watch KB and Mattie perform “I Believe” at the GMA Dove Awards.
  • Have You Ever Seen the Rain? John Fogerty performs an impromptu acoustic version of his classic “Have Your Ever Seen the Rain” recently on Conan.
  • It Takes a Lot to Laugh It Takes a Train to Cry – Take 1. Here’s another track from Bob Dylan’s new The Best of the Cutting Edge 1965-66: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12. Read Jon Pareles’ article about the album here.
  • U2’s Boy at 35: Classic Track-by-Track Album Review. Released 35 years ago, Billboard magazine’s Kenneth Partridge looks at U2’s Boy album.

Music Quotes:

  • Whether today seems to go your way or not, it’s always going God’s way. He makes no mistakes. Trust Him. Proverbs 3:5-6. Lecrae
  • We stand before God’s wonder and yet we are disinterested and bored. This should not be. Trip Lee

Song of the Week

Too Much Pride by Don Henley

This song has a gospel flavor and is included on the deluxe edition of Henley’s excellent new album Cass County. Watch him perform the song here.

Common as dirt; as old as sin
The road to ruin, again and again
Oh, how many dreams have bloomed and died
Too much pride

How many heavens are hopelessly lost?
How many tender loves has vanity cost?
Lord, help the soul that can’t be satisfied
Too much pride

You don’t have to be right all the timeProverbs 1618
You can’t go on with all of these axes to grind

So, why don’t you lighten up and let it ride
Too much pride

Empires rise and empires fall
Stick around here long enough, you’ll see it all
Now it looks like it’s gone nationwide
Too much pride

Some people tell you it’s a good thing
Some people tell you it’s a sin
Just like a weed in the garden
You’re askin’ for trouble if you let it in

Now, it looks like it’s gone nationwide
Too much pride
It’s the oldest form of suicide
Too much pride

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Don HenleyMusic Review: Cass County (Deluxe Edition) by Don Henley

The first album in 15 years (and fifth overall) from the 68 year-old founding member, drummer and co-lead vocalist of the Eagles, recently debuted at #1 on Billboard magazine’s Country Charts, his first solo album to top the charts. The album is co-produced by Henley and Stan Lynch (former drummer with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), and features guest appearances from Mick Jagger, Merle Haggard, Martina McBride, Miranda Lambert, Dolly Parton, Trisha Yearwood, Alison Krauss, Vince Gill, Jamey Johnson, Lee Ann Womack, Ashley Monroe and others.

The album was recorded in Nashville and also in Dallas where Henley lives, and took several years to complete. While many are calling it Henley’s “country album”, he says much of it fits better into the Americana format. The album title refers to the underpopulated area of east Texas near the borders of Arkansas and Louisiana, where Henley was born in 1947 and grew up in the 1950’s. The deluxe edition includes 16 songs, eleven of which were written by Henley and Lynch with others, and is solid from the opening cover of alternative country artist Tift Merritt’s “Bramble Rose”, featuring Miranda Lambert and Mick Jagger (who actually does country quite well), to the closing rocker “Where I Am Now”. Henley’s ballads include themes of the passage of time, looking at the past and also to the future, regret, acceptance and love, present and in the past.

McBride joins Henley for a duet on “That Old Flame”, as well as singing on the closing “Where I Am Now”. “That Old Flame” is a song about long-lost friends who were once lovers. “Where I Am Now” is a confident song in which Henley reflects on his life, liking where he is now.

I been east, west, north and south
But I made it through somehow
And I like where I am now

“Take a Picture of This” portrays the end of a marriage. Dolly Parton joins him on the Louvin Brothers’ hit from sixty years ago “When I Stop Dreaming”.

“A Younger Man” is about a younger woman falling for an older man, but he sings:

If you believe in better days ahead
For this crazy human race
That we will somehow be delivered
By goodness and by grace
And if you’re lookin’ for believers
In faith and hope and charity
Then, you’re you’re lookin’ for a younger man – not me

“Train in the Distance” is the album’s most autobiographical song as Henley reflects back on his childhood when life was simple and now the responsibilities of an adult as he sings:

You better make friends with your angels and your demons
They will be riding with you wherever you go

“The Cost of Living” with Merle Haggard is about dealing with getting older, but not regretting a single day as they sing: It’s the cost of living and everyone pays.

“Waiting Tables” is the story of a young girl who grew up in a small town, married a reckless fool, and is now a single mother waiting tables. She sighs: Dear Lord above, there must be more than this.

“Praying for Rain” is about farmers dealing with drought conditions and praying for rain soon:

I’m praying for rain
I’m praying for rain
Lord, I ain’t never asked for much
And I don’t mean to complain
But I’m praying for rain

In singing about pride in “Too Much Pride”, which features some tasty piano from Mike Rojas, he sings:

Some people tell you it’s a good thing
Some people tell you it’s a sin
Just like a weed in the garden
You’re askin’ for trouble if you let it in

I’m a longtime Eagles fan who saw them in concert more than 35 years ago in their prime. I’ve listened to this album several times, and it sounds better with each succeeding listen. I’ve always loved Henley’s voice and it is still excellent here. The songwriting and instrumentation are strong and the album benefits from the guest artists and their contributions. I found it to be one of the top releases of the year.


Music Quotes:

  • I don’t want to sacrifice who I am for the sake of acceptance. Andy Mineo
  • There is no humility I can manufacture, no penitence I can create that can move the heart of God. True brokenness is a gift from Him alone. Fernando Ortega
  • There is grace today for yesterday’s failures. Lecrae

Song of the Week

The Burning Edge of DawnBe Kind to Yourself by Andrew Peterson

This week’s song of the week is a song that Andrew Peterson wrote for his daughter Skye, who deals with self-condemnation. He performed this song when we saw him in concert on August 29 when he was accompanied on drums by his 15 year-old son Asher. He sings that he loves Skye just the way she is, and the way the Lord is shaping her heart. Watch the video here.

You got all that emotion that’s heaving like an ocean
And you’re drowning in a deep, dark well
I can hear it in your voice that if you only had a choice
You would rather be anyone else

I love you just the way that you are
I love the way He made your precious heart

Be kind to yourself
Be kind to yourself

I know it’s hard to hear it when that anger in your spirit
Is pointed like an arrow at your chest
When the voices in your mind are anything but kind
And you can’t believe your Father knows best

I love you just the way that you are
I love the way He’s shaping your heart

Be kind to yourself
Be kind to yourself

How does it end when the war that you’re in
Is just you against you against you
Gotta learn to love, learn to love
Learn to love your enemies too

You can’t expect to be perfect
It’s a fight you’ve gotta forfeit
You belong to me whatever you do
So lay down your weapon, darling
Take a deep breath and believe that I love you

Be kind to yourself
Be kind to yourself
Be kind to yourself

Gotta learn to love, learn to love
Learn to love your enemies
Gotta learn to love, learn to love
Learn to love your enemies too