Reviewed by Helen Whitall
Switchfoot celebrate their 20th year as a band on top form with this, their 10th album. And what a stunning celebration this is. The songs vary wildly in style, full of catchy riffs and melodies; from the creative and Beatles-influenced "Bull In A China Shop", through the '70s-style funk "Float", '90s-flavoured indie on "Healer Of Souls" (complete with trumpet backing), to more of a classic Switchfoot sound on "Live It Well". "I Won't Let You Go" is a tender, powerfully affecting epic, in which the voice of God answers the doubts and pain of the listener, calling us to simply trust, and repeating the promise of Romans 8 that nothing can separate us from his love. We are treated to Jon Foreman's full vocal range, soaring effortlessly from soft falsetto to heartfelt yell, whilst Keith Tutt on cello rounds out the beautiful sound. In contrast, high-octane '80s style power ballad "If The House Burns Down Tonight" imagines a couple fleeing a California wildfire. Faced with the very real prospect of losing everything but each other, they realise that all the "stuff" was merely a distraction from what truly matters in life. The driving beat is as fast as the escape it describes, and Jon roars like a motor. "Looking For America" is an inspired and timely collaboration with rapper Lecrae; lamenting the state of the nation, it points the listener towards a better Kingdom, calling endemic racism and gun addiction into question. Jon and Lecrae share vocals throughout, full of passion, whilst guitars wail like police sirens. Despite the variety, the songs tell a coherent story of hope for broken relationships, both personal and in wider society. Producer John Fields ensures the sound throughout is rich and clean, and musical and lyrical back- and cross-referencing between songs on the album and previous albums makes it a really well crafted collection, hanging together perfectly; unique in the same way as previous albums have been, and yet thoroughly Switchfoot. Finally we really get to hear their musical skills, so evident when you see them live; although "The Day That I Found God" features a slide guitar solo from Robert Randolph, the band themselves jam and solo throughout the record, and sound like they're having fun in the process. This is an album that will be held up for years to come to show of what they are capable.
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