Switchfoot was founded in 1996 as Chin Up. Their debut album as Switchfoot, which is a surfing term, was 1997’s THE LEGEND OF CHIN. 2003’s THE BEAUTIFUL LETDOWN achieved mainstream success with two singles, ‘Meant to Live’ and ‘Dare You to Move’. OH! GRAVITY is the band’s sixth studio album. It was released on Sparrow and Columbia Records in 2006. It debuted on the Billboard 200 in 18th place and sold 63,000 copies the first week. On the album Switchfoot is: Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman, Chad Butler, Jerome Fontamillas, and Andrew Shirley. Jon wrote eight of the songs alone, co-wrote three with brother Tim, and one with Todd Cooper.
The title track ‘Oh! Gravity’ starts things off with a pounding rock beat. It is about society’s brokenness: “There’s a fracture in the color bar/In the backseat of a parked car/By the liquor store where the streetlight/Keep you company ‘til the next night.../Oh! Gravity!/Why can’t we seem to keep it together?/Sons of my enemies/Why can’t we seem to keep it together?” ‘American Dream’ is electric guitar and drum driven. It speaks out versus materialism: “When success is equated with excess/The ambition for excess wrecks us/As the top of the mind becomes the bottom line/When success is equated with excess.../Like a puppet on a monetary string/Maybe we’ve been caught singing/Red, white, blue, and green/But that ain’t my America/That ain’t my American dream”. ‘Dirty Second Hands’ portrays time as an enemy: “In the land of the free/And the home of the remedy/The old clock is a thief/With dirty second hands (2X)/Here’s the face of everything/That breaks you down/Now you face the face of everything/That breaks you down/Are you really as tough as you think?”
‘Awakening’ is a commercial sounding pop/rock number about spiritual revitalization: “Last week saw me living for nothing but deadlines/With my dead beat sky/But this town doesn’t look the same tonight/These dreams started singing to me out of nowhere/And all my life I don’t know/That I’ve ever felt so alive, alive.../Maybe it’s called ambition/But you’ve been talkin’ in your sleep about a dream/We’re awakening”. ‘Circles’ is a more mellow song with Sean and Sara Watkins of Nickel Creek contributing guest vocals and mandolin. It contains these lyrics: “I’ve lost all that I wanted to leave/I’ve lost all that I wanted to be/Don’t believe that there’s nothing this true/Don’t believe in this modern machine/The modern machine/In circles/Spinning, spinning, in circles, in circles”. ‘Amateur Lovers’ incorporates cowbell and horns and includes these playful lyrics: “We don’t know what we’re doing/We do it again/We’re just amateur lovers/With amateur friends/I can tell you what you’re thinking now/Before you think it, you can settle down/We don’t know what we’re doing/Let’s do it again (2X)”.
‘Faust, Midas, and Myself’ encourages us to live life with a clear purpose and goals: “You’ve one life/You’ve one life left to leave/You’ve one life, you’ve one life, you’ve one life, you’ve one life left to lead/What direction?/Life begins at the intersection”. ‘Head over Heels (In This Life)’ is a beautiful rock ballad. It’s essentially a love song: “In this life, you’re the one place I call home/In this life, you’re the feeling I belong/In this life, you’re the flower and the thorn/You’re everything that’s fair in love and war/I’m coming down like a gunshot/In all these battles that I’ve fought/You’re the mark I’m aiming for/I was yours”. Noah Lamberth plays the space pedal steel on ‘Yesterdays’, a quiet song about losing a loved one: “Flowers cut and brought inside/Black cars in a single line/Your family in suits and ties/And you’re free/The ache I feel inside/Is where the life has left your eyes/I’m alone for our last goodbye/But you’re free/I remember you like yesterday, yesterday/I still can’t believe you’re gone, oh”.
‘Burn out Bright’ is a peppy song expressing a desire to live life to the full: “If we’ve only got one try/If we’ve only got one life/If time was never on our side/Well before I die, I wanna burn out bright”. ‘4:12’ uses violins, cello, and harmonica. It touches on the spiritual: “I still can’t believe that all we are/And that all of our dreams are nothing more than material/Souls aren’t built of stone, sticks and bones”. ‘Let your love be Strong’ is likely addressed to God: “Let your love be strong and I don’t care what goes down/Let your love be strong enough/To weather through the thunder cloud/Fury and thunder clap like stealing the fire from your eyes/All of my world hanging on your love/Let the wars begin, let my strength wear thin/Let my fingers crack, let my world fall apart/Train the monkeys on my back to fight/Let it start tonight, when my world explodes/When my stars touch the ground/Falling down like broken satellites/Let your love be strong and I don’t care what goes down”.
With OH! GRAVITY Switchfoot has put out a clean, solid, passionate, in touch with reality, rock album. Jon Foreman’s vocals and songwriting are strong. The themes presented in the lyrics should appeal both to Christians and non-Christians. Fans of Sam Roberts, Bryan Adams, and The Tea Party need to pick this one up! I’m rating OH! GRAVITY 88%. For more info visit: www.switchfoot.com.