Jon Foreman’s latest release, Departures, is an ode to 2020 in the most poignant way. Born out of a year of doubt and uncertainty, this album explores feelings of lament while also embracing the possibility of the unknown. It’s about a journey, as Foreman described it on Twitter—not a destination.
In the wake of many successful years as the frontman of Switchfoot, Foreman wanted to share a more personal and intimate musical experience with fans. Departures is that passion project. Following the release of some original EPs and singles, this is Foreman’s first solo album. (It seems as though the band’s status is unaffected by his pursuit of his own music.)
Departures encapsulates a range of emotions, often jumping from one feeling to another—a pretty accurate depiction of how the past year played out. The album begins with “The Ocean Beyond the Sea,” a dramatic song complete with hushed vocals, a bold musical crescendo, and an overall feel that’s reminiscent of Lord of the Rings. Foreman switches gears with the following track, “Education,” a pop-rock anthem that’s lively and catchy. But the uncertainty of what will come next is the whole idea.
Though Switchfoot has experienced a crossover from contemporary Christian music to a sound and style that’s predominantly secular, faith is a pretty prominent topic in Foreman’s solo project. “Jesus, I Have My Doubts” is a painfully honest conversation about longing and wrestling, whereas “Thanks Be to God” acknowledges that God always delivers and sustains. Lauren Daigle joins Foreman in “A Place Called Earth,” and their vocals blend together beautifully as they “long for heaven in a place called Earth.”
In addition, Foreman sings with singer-songwriter Madison Cunningham during the folksy love song “Side by Side.” “Love Is the Rebel Song” seems like a distinct homage to Switchfoot’s sound. Like the other upbeat tracks, it adds some lightheartedness to the album. Overall, Departures makes peace with the reckoning, reminding listeners of the arrival of hope when all seems lost. (lowercase people records)