Switchfoot Where the Light Shines Through album cover

Album Review: Switchfoot – Where the Light Shines Through

Switchfoot hits new heights with their 10th studio album Where the Light Shines Through, out today, featuring delightful melodies, fun arrangements and an overall shift towards a new sound and musical direction.

Don’t worry superfans, the album isn’t a drastic departure from past releases it’s just different, and refreshing in a number of ways, most notably by showing the band’s ability to think outside the box and produce a 12 track album (15 tracks on the Deluxe Album) that almost feels like they’re starting anew.

Perhaps, most surprisingly, is the rocking  and upbeat nature of the album considering it was born from, as singer Jon Foreman said, “one of the darkest times I’ve ever been through.” Contrarily, it pops from the opening song to the closer and unlike their last effort, Fading West, which took the live treatment to really show the strength of the songs, Where the Light Shines Through is indeed an immediate ray of sunshine.

Switchfoot Where the Light Shines Through Album Review

The album opens with “Holy Water” featuring an awesome chorus followed by one of the album’s best songs and simply nothing you’ve ever heard from the San Diego five-some in “Float.” Think Beck’s “Dreams” and finally Tim Foreman gets to shine on bass. One listen and you’ll be begging for more.

The title track infuses a bit of country and a touch of gospel into that familiar Switchfoot sound before the band hits you over the head with the emotional pull of “I Won’t Let You Go.” It’s as deep as any song Switchfoot has ever written (If you can let the pain of the past go/Of your soul/None of this is in your control/If you could only let your guard down/If you could learn to trust me somehow/I swear, that I won’t let you go) and shows a never before heard dynamic and range to Jon Foreman’s vocals. This is the song missing from Coldplay’s last two albums.

Don’t let the start of “If The House Burns Down Tonight” fool you, it’s pace turns quickly and is reminiscent of some of Billy Joel’s work from the 80s. “The Day That I Found God” is perhaps the band’s most vocal pronouncement, song wise, of their Christian faith. It’s a modern day psalm full of lamentation, some questions and finally reality.

“Shake This Feeling” continues with solid harmonies and could very well serve as one of several applicable singles on this album. “Bull in a China Shop” is another anomaly in the Switchfoot catalog, with a really clever guitar hook but the excessive repeat of the chorus bogs it down quite a bit and feels like the band found that fun hook but didn’t know exactly where to go from there.

“Live It Well” is the most Switchfoot of all the songs and could easily slide right in on any one of their previous albums.

It’s rarely if ever a good idea to combine a rapper and a rock band but “Looking for America” which features Lecrae (wow, he’s really making the rounds with Christian rock bands) isn’t all that bad (though it does comes across trying to hard to be Eminem) and considering the recent events in Dallas it’s got some seriously germane lyrics – America who are you?/Underneath the red blue and white?/America who are you?/I wonder who you are tonight/America who are you?/Is God still on your side?/I want to see a nation rise above the fear and fight that haunts these streets tonight

“Healer of Souls” brings the fun back with a catchy pop rhythm the Black Keys would appreciate and the regular album ends with “Hope Is The Anthem” the only other song that embraces the traditional Switchfoot sound.

The Deluxe Edition of the Where The Light Shines Through includes three additional songs which, quite often, when bands offer the “Deluxe” version the extra songs come off more as second hand, or those left off a previous album or just didn’t make the cut for the current album but worth sharing anyway. It’s never really made sense to me, if they’re good enough for a “Deluxe” album then they’re good enough for the regular album.

However, these songs indeed continue Switchfoot’s foray into new territory with the very different, very cool,  and somber sounding “Light And Heavy.” “Begin Forever “ and “When Was the Last Time” wrap it up and definitely feel more like songs from When the Light Shines Through but don’t necessarily give the same punch as the rest though “Begin Forever” definitely delivers grow-on-you attributes.

Some of music’s best songs, and albums for that matter, often result from the songwriter’s personal struggles with “fill-in-the-blank.” Where the Light Shines Through  is no different. Foreman said he turned his scars into songs and the album is the band’s most personal to date.

It’s also one of their best.

Grade: A-

Switchfoot Where the Light Shines Through Songs:

1. Holy Water
2. Float
3. Where The Light Shines Through
4. I Won’t Let You Go
5. If The House Burns Down Tonight
6. The Day That I Found God
7. Shake This Feeling
8. Bull In A China Shop
9. Live It Well
10. Looking For America
11. Healer Of Souls
12. Hope Is The Anthem
13. Light And Heavy*
14. Begin Forever*
15. When Was The Last Time*


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