With the third installment in The Wonderlands series, Jon Foreman returns with Darkness, a striking juxtaposition of discouragement and resilience. Using familiar accounts of human experience to personify the music he so masterfully crafts, Foreman attempts to illuminate the necessary space between Shadows and Dawn.
The EP opens with "Come Home," a conspicuous and foreboding track on which Foreman attests, "nothing hurts worse / than hope that's deferred," effectively setting the stage for the tales of darkness to follow. "Beautiful, Pt. II" is one such story, centered around a girl struggling to find comfort in physical appearance by "brushing on her bravest eyes." Similarly, "She Said" depicts a scene of desperation and despair, a soul whose only option is to wait. While these songs and their accompanying instrumentation directly support the precedent set by Foreman's album title, they seem to contrast the remainder of the album. For instance, "You Alone," "Larger Than Life" and "June & Johnny" impart unexpected reassurance, focusing on the faith and perseverance required to overcome life's obstacles rather than the struggle itself. Inevitably, the sun rises again with "Inner Peace," which concludes with a resolution: "I'm looking for the one that made me."
Impressive narration and undeniable songwriting talent aside, The Wonderlands: Darkness is a curious release. Throughout the EP, Foreman drifts between creative expansion and disorganization, which is perhaps most apparent in the inconsistency of tone as the album progresses. Alternating solemn hardship with upbeat glimpses of hope, Foreman largely forfeits consistency and, consequently, the lasting impact on listeners that other Wonderlands EPs convey. While there is something to be said for the chosen album structure, its effect is similar to a flashlight being brought into a darkened movie theater; the material is notable but the environment does not always serve it well.
Ultimately, Darkness may be the weakest of The Wonderlands releases for reasons unrelated to individual songwriting. With a diverse selection of tracks, Foreman delivers an enjoyable experience that is unfortunately too unbalanced to endorse the artist's overall theme. While this EP will certainly play an essential part in the larger collection of devoted fans, newcomers should be directed back to the light.- Review date: 11/29/15, written by Jeremy Barnes of Jesusfreakhideout.com
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