Jon Foreman – Roll Tape: Live From Melody League Studios

Independent

Release Date: October 1st 2021

Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre

Jon ForemanRoll Tape: Live From Melody League Studios (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. Terminal
  2. Jesus, I Have My Doubts
  3. Side By Side
  4. A Place Called Earth
  5. Southbound Train
  6. Red & Gold
  7. Resurrect Me
  8. The Cure for Pain
  9. Only Hope
  10. Inheritance
  11. Your Love Is Strong
  12. It Is Well With My Soul
  13. A Place Called Earth (feat. Lauren Daigle) [Live From the Ryman Auditorium]

‘…Friends! I’m so stoked to present to you: Roll Tape: Live From Melody League Studios! A collection of solo tunes recorded earlier this year. Over the course of the last 18 months, livestreams became a surprising and amazing point of connection, an outlet while we couldn’t tour. When my friends and I got together for a few streams earlier this year, we knew we were onto something that would live on beyond the moment. These songs are truly special to me and I can’t wait for you to hear ’em. The first track, “Jesus, I Have My Doubts” releases today and the full album is out October 1st! …’ Jon Foreman. Lead singer of Switchfoot. And exemplary singer-songwriter within the realms of artists like Andrew Peterson, Jason Gray, Nichole Nordeman, Mike Donehey (of Tenth Avenue North), even mainstream artists like John Mayer, the Goo Goo Dolls and U2. Jon has been helming the band Switchfoot since the mid-1990s, as we who were fans of 1990s CCM watched this alternative rock band grow from a garage-group to a multi-platinum quintet, with powerful songs like ‘Dare You to Move’, ‘Stars’, ‘Love Alone is Worth the Fight’, ‘Learning to Breathe’, ‘Meant to Live’, ‘Only Hope’, ‘Restless’ and ‘Oh! Gravity’, to name a few. Switchfoot have shown me what it’s like to deliver such songs in a way that both lovers of CCM and mainstream can enjoy them alike, as we see a band whose faith is ever-so-present in these songs, but still equally sensitive to the human condition, and to people who share different perspectives, and thus tailoring the song and album experience to fit these people too. Jon’s music has been a blessing to listen to and a treasure for myself to collate in my iTunes music library, as this Switchfoot lead singer becomes one of the wisest and heartfelt singer-songwriters to ever grace the Christian music space in quite some time. With Jon unveiling songs and albums as a solo artist, concurrently with his band material, Jon released his most recent solo album Departures in February 2021- consisting of songs like ‘Jesus I Have My Doubts’, ‘Side By Side’, ‘A Place Called Earth’ and ‘Education’, and has become one of my own favourite albums of 2021 thus far. I reviewed the album here, and even discussed Jon’s mark on music history and music itself in a blog post I wrote, earlier on during the year. Now at the end of September 2021, we see Jon offering up another album again, this time it’s a ‘live’ project in studio- Roll Tape: Live From Melody League Studios.

Let me just preface this ‘review’ by saying this- I don’t have the pre-release to this album, nor have I had any back-door access to this album before anyone else. But I have nevertheless decided to provide my thoughts to this ‘live’ album, and while it may seem like a farcical thing to do- to review something before I’ve basically even heard it, but the way I see it is this- that as accomplished and prolific of a songwriter, Jon is, makes it reason enough for anyone who loves music, period; to check out Jon’s new upcoming album, once at least. Standing at 13 tracks, each of these songs encompass an era in Jon’s music discography- you have ‘Only Hope’, arguably the song that most people who are lovers of mainstream music, know and appreciate; here on this upcoming album, while the songs from Departures– ‘Side by Side’, ‘Jesus I Have My Doubts’, ‘A Place Called Earth’, even lesser known track ‘Red & Gold’, are present as well. Songs that I discussed in my blog about Jon earlier on during the year- ‘Resurrect Me’, ‘The Cure for Pain’, ‘Terminal’, ‘Southbound Train’, ‘Inheritance’ and ‘Your Love is Strong’, are also here on Jon’s forthcoming ‘live’ project, while a beloved hymn ‘It is Well With My Soul’ is given the Jon Foreman treatment. While unheard at this stage, I can firmly state that Jon’s version of this emotive, sombre, and heartfelt hymn, will be just what is needed in a time of reflection and contemplation in a world as tumultuous as this.

Jon’s albums have always possessed a healing quality to them, and as you read my blog about him (alongside my 2021 Departures review), I’m sure you can all agree as well. This upcoming album will feature a lot of what makes Jon’s music permeate the soul and the human condition, as this album (with a Jon-Lauren duet of ‘A Place Called Earth’ live at the Ryman, as well) reminds us all of why we need an artist like Jon, providing a semblance of hope in a trying time as this, and that together with artists like Skillet, needtobreathe, Andrew Peterson, Jason Gray and Steven Curtis Chapman, give us reasons enough to say that the CCM genre that has been tired for a while, is still providing us artists with depth, character, message, and artistic nuance, especially in these artists I just aforementioned. Jon’s humble approach in creating music that allows people of different walks of faith, of non-faith, people who are of different races, creeds and ideologies, to partake in songs that cover a lot of universal ground, is what has been appealing in Jon’s music itself, from both CCM and mainstream audiences, and I’m sure this new album, releasing this coming Friday, is no different. An album that can be listened to by lovers of Switchfoot, Jon Foreman, or someone who even wants to jump in an listen to a Jon Foreman album for the first time (because in all honesty, this is by all accounts a ‘live’ best-of album encompassing some of Jon’s greatest solo hits); Jon’s a positive reminder that inspirational music, CCM music, and alternative rock music, is not dead yet. As long as Jon’s still creating music, we as listeners and people appreciating good music, period; will continue to listen. Well done Jon, for what I believe, will be a great album. Looking forward to how God uses this album to speak to people in the upcoming weeks and months ahead!

4 songs to listen to: Jesus I Have My Doubts, Only Hope, Your Love is Strong, The Cure For Pain

Score: 5/5

RIYL: Switchfoot, Jillian Edwards, Steven Curtis Chapman, Andrew Peterson, Jason Gray, John Mayer

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