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Limbs and Branches

  • reviewed by Andrea Dawn Goforth Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2008 1 Oct
Limbs and Branches
Sounds like … the organic folk vibe displayed by artists such as Damien Rice, Sufjan Stevens, Elliot Smith, and Bob DylanAt a glance … Foreman combines the best of his seasonal EPs, featuring a home grown sound and an honest message of faithTrack Listing Your Love Is Strong Behind Your Eyes The Cure For Pain Resurrect Me Southbound Train Broken From The Start House Of God, Forever Instead Of A Show A Mirror Is Harder To Hold In My Arms Learning How To Die Over The River

"Master songwriter … exquisite craftsman … eclectic musical mind"—these are all things that have been said about Jon Foreman in 2008 with the release of his 4 solo EPs. And rightfully so, as the Switchfoot frontman reached deeper than his band's usual hook-filled rock, demonstrating an ear for instrumentation, understated melodies, and candid lyrics.

Originally available as digital downloads and then a pair of double-disc releases—Fall and Winter and Spring, and Summer—EMI now offers a single disc collection called Limbs and Branches that pulls together the best from all 4 while adding a couple new tracks.

The very first words of this album are "Heavenly Father," which along with Foreman's calm voice and the overall broken down feel make it impossible for "Your Love Is Strong" to feel preachy or trite. The lyrics are soaked in Foreman's humility and genuine love for his Creator, underscored by soft yet passionate instrumentation.

Not all the tracks are as lush sounding. "Behind Your Eyes", "Cure for the Pain" and "In My Arms" are only accompanied by acoustic guitar and a scarcity of instrumentation. Others are more eclectic—from the banjo that characterizes "South Bound Train" to the horn section in "Learning How to Die" and the Spanish flavored "A Mirror Is Harder to Hold," the album offers a refreshing array of diversity and innovation.

As for the album's new tracks, they're nice additions, but neither better or worse than the rest of Foreman's material. "Broken from the Start" resembles the other tracks with its thick backing vocals, simple acoustic guitar, and smatterings of piano and strings. And "Over the River" closes the CD with an eerie, broken down tune that could be featured in any Tim Burton film.

It's as a lyricist that Foreman prevails most. He matches the art of honesty with the beauty of faith to create a humble message. Many of his words are clearly inspired by scripture while others tell personal life stories. Some have called his solo songwriting "brutally honest," but they don't feel brutal at all—it's more the type of honesty that is deeply relatable to the soul. In full acknowledgement of sounding like a broken record among all the other music critics, Limbs and Branches does in fact reveal Foreman as a master songwriter, an exquisite craftsman, and an eclectic musical mind.

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