lowercase people records

Release Date: September 15th 2023

Reviewed by: Jonathan Andre

SwitchfootThe Beautiful Letdown (Our Version) (Deluxe Edition) (Amazon mp3/iTunes)

Track Listing:

  1. Meant to Live (Jon Bellion Version)
  2. This is Our Life (Noah Gundersen Version)
  3. More Than Fine (Monica Martin Version)
  4. Ammunition (Relient K Version)
  5. Dare You To Move (Ryan Tedder from OneRepublic Version)
  6. Redemption (Colony House Version)
  7. The Beautiful Letdown (Jonas Brothers Version)
  8. Gone (Owl City Version)
  9. On Fire (Ingrid Andress Version)
  10. Adding to the Noise (Dayglow Version)
  11. Twenty-Four (Tyler Joseph from Twenty One Pilots Version)
  12. Monday Comes Around (Sleeping At Last Version)
  13. Meant to Live (Our Version)
  14. This is Our Life (Our Version)
  15. More Than Fine (Our Version)
  16. Ammunition (Our Version)
  17. Dare You To Move (Our Version)
  18. Redemption (Our Version)
  19. The Beautiful Letdown (Our Version)
  20. Gone (Our Version)
  21. On Fire (Our Version)
  22. Adding to the Noise (Our Version)
  23. Twenty-Four (Our Version)
  24. Monday Comes Around (Our Version)
  25. In My Blood (Our Version)

People are re-recording nowadays. Most notable is Taylor Swift, who is re-recording her whole music catalogue pre-Lover, in an attempt to ‘reclaim’ her songs that were unfortunately lost to her label in terms of rights. She’s re-recorded Fearless, RED and Speak Now, and the 1989 re-recording is releasing this upcoming October 2023. Then there’s Bryan Adams, who released two EPs in 2022, titled Classic and Classic Vol. II, each consisting of 7-8 songs from his music catalogue, redone and re-recorded, similar reasoning as to why Taylor Swift is undertaking her new musical journey. Nevertheless, to see a band like Switchfoot re-record their career-defining album The Beatufiul Letdown was an initial shock. Because as far as I know, Switchfoot still ‘own’ these songs that were made famous 20 years ago. There’s isn’t a ‘Taylor Swift situation’ going on with Switchfoot, or so I think. I may be wrong, but as far as I know, Switchfoot are still the rightful owners of their tunes from yesteryear…so why the full album re-recording? According to the band themselves on JesusFreakHideout.com in a recent press release, ‘…this album has meant the world to us for 20 years. As our way of honoring the journey we’ve been on together, we’ve re-recorded the album in its entirety. It’s our way of saying ‘thanks’ — thanks for singing these songs with us for 20 years!…’ Jon and the team created The Beautiful Letdown (Our Version) and released it in May 2023, that featured the 2003 album completely redone and released…to critical and commercial acclaim. Now in September 2023, we see Jon Foreman and co. create a deluxe edition to The Beautiful Letdown (Our Version), complete with a 25-track list. In addition to the original 11 songs from the standard edition, we see Jon and co deliver two new b-side tracks in ‘Monday Comes Around’ and ‘In My Blood’, not to mention the entirety of The Beautiful Letdown (plus ‘Monday Comes Around’) is re-recorded by other artists, as these other musicians in the industry (of varying degrees of fame, recognition, and musical genre) give their own spin on Switchfoot classics.

The end result? Maybe…a mixed bag? I reviewed The Beautiful Letdown (Our Version) a little while ago, and in it, I said that the band ‘…have created just an equally powerful masterpiece 20 years later, as a way of saying ‘thanks’ to their fans, and this reason alone shouldn’t be lost on us fans of the band, or even lost on us lovers of music, period. Sure, for the casual listener, this ‘version’ of the album shouldn’t seem like a departure from their original recording of the 11 tracks 20 years ago (in fact, for me at least, there are subtle differences between this 2023 version compared to the 2003 original- more distinct and clear instrumentation and a much more refined, enthusiastic and hopeful sound in general), but in all honesty and sincerety, it’s only the ‘diehard fans’ (of which I am becoming, but I’m not there yet) that will recognise every difference between The Beautiful Letdown (Our Version) and The Beautiful Letdown. And maybe that’s ok…’ I also mentioned that ‘…Switchfoot are at a stage in their music career where they can re-record their music, and it’ll be just as powerful, heartfelt and compelling now, compared to when and whence they released it. Maybe even more so. Maybe that’s the power of timeless songs and timeless albums. And The Beautiful Letdown is timeless in every way. Which album, the ‘our version’ version, or the original, will stand the test of time in the next 10+ years? I dunno. Maybe people would prefer the 2003 album, or maybe others, like me, will tend to gravitate to this newly fresh and reinvigorating album. Nevertheless, one thing’s for sure. Switchfoot’s songs from 20 years ago still ring true today, maybe even more so. The lyrics to ‘Gone’ that form to ‘outro’ to the track, still ring true today. It’s a reminder for us to embrace intentionality, purposefulness, compelling conversations, and compassion in this life, instead of the comfortability we all seem to settle for…

But as I look at track’s 1 through 12 here on this deluxe edition version of the album, I don’t feel the ‘Switchfoot feeling’ that I have come to know from Jon and the band, and maybe that’s…ok? Different? Weird? Pop icon Owl City lends his vocals (and electronic sounds) to the whimsical (yet equally poignant) ‘Gone’, and this fit is a great match made in heaven. Quite possibly my favourite re-imagining of the whole entire album, I actually prefer Owl City’s version to the original…and that’s saying something. New-ish artist Ingrid Andress lends her own country-esque folksy voice to ‘On Fire’, changing the slow ballad to an upbeat song of…enthusiasm? Passion? The original had so much hauntingly emotive lyrics of lament and regret, while this new rendition is more…hopeful? Teen sensations of yesteryear (and now currently a popular pop artist trio) Jonas Brothers lend themselves to their version of ‘The Beautiful Letown’, and really make this version their own- if you didn’t know Switchfoot were the original artists, you’d almost be forgiven to say that this is a Jonas Brothers original. Alternative artist Jon Bellion creates his own take of ‘Meant to Live’- gone is the rock anthem, and in comes synths and keyboards galore, with the song slowed down intentionally to create a refreshing ballad full of grandiose moments of declaration and heart. Indie band Colony House slowed down ‘Redemption’ to create a hauntingly refreshing moment of tranquility and comtemplation for their version of the song, while pop-punk band Relient K leant into their pop-punk influences to create a total punk version of ‘Ammunition’- and while I still prefer Jon’s version of ‘Ammunition’ better, I still commend Matt Thiesen for his ingenuity and out-of-the-box thinking. Even Sleeping at Last’s version of b-side ‘Monday Comes Around’ is ingenious- instead of the rock way that Switchfoot employed on their version, this one by Sleeping at Last is much folksier and subdued interpretation, a la Drew Holcomb and the Neighbours, Gavin DeGraw, or The Fray.

But then…the the rest of the re-recordings? Nothing else much to be said about those, unfortunately. Nothing against these versions per se, but it’s just that these other renditions of Switchfoot’s songs (‘This is Your Life’ by Noah Gundersen, ‘More Than Fine’ by Monica Martin, ‘Dare You To Move’ by Ryan Tedder, ‘Adding To the Noise’ by Dayglow and ‘Twenty Four’ by Tyler Joseph of Twenty One Pilots) seem too…safe? Yes, they are safe, and mirror the original recordings just a little too much. What gripe I have the most with, is the reimagined version of ‘Dare You to Move’. In fact, it really isn’t a reimagining, because the song sounds exactly like the original recording, except Ryan Tedder singing the second verse, second chorus, and bits of the bridge, before coming back and dueting (at the same time) the last chorus with Jon simultaneously. I initially thought Ryan was going to carry ‘Dare You to Move’ on his own. The song could’ve sounded way different too. Alas, that wasn’t meant to be, and this version of the song lacked something. Heart? Passion? It unfortunately sounded like a cut-and-paste job from both Jon and Ryan. In fact, I don’t think Jon himself had a hand in this reimagined version at all. Ryan could’ve just sung his parts, and it could’ve been edited from there, to make it sound like a duet when it probably wasn’t.

All in all, the album is a mixed bag. But still a must; if you enjoy Switchfoot like I do. And definitely not a ‘2’ like what was depicted by JFH in their review of the album. Whatever the case, this ‘new’ album from Switchfoot is powerful and emotive, timeless, and enjoyable, and though some reimagined songs fall under the mark, holistically Jon and co. have created something special. This deluxe edition of an already great album; is a great reminder of how songs (and albums) of yesteryear can make a comeback all these years later, with such power, heart and enthusiasm as what it once did. Well done Jon for this already great album. What album is going to be next? (cough*’Nothing is Sound’*cough?)

6 songs to listen to: Dare You To Move, Meant to Live, Twenty-Four, Gone (Owl City Version), The Beautiful Letdown (Jonas Brothers Version), On Fire (Ingrid Andress Version)

Score: 4.5/5

RIYL: needtobreathe, Jon Foreman, Jars of Clay, Lifehouse, Anberlin, Kutless

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