Learning to Breathe

Learning to Breathe finds lead singer Jon Foreman's songs tinged with more clever and offbeat twists and turns than may have been immediately evident on the band's sophomore disc. Most of the songs explore the "upside down" aspects of God's grace.

The album is a slow burner, as the stark musical mood of "I Dare You to Move" and the bare-boned wordplay of title track build toward the emotional release of "You Already Take Me There". The second half of the disc features even more evidence of Foreman's lyrical gifts as well as the band's musical growth. The irresistible hook of "POParazzi" is driven home by Foreman's poke at the ephemeral nature of pop culture. "The Economy of Mercy" acknowledges our fragility before God, while "Erosion" is a prayer for the Lord to strip away our layers of sin and separation. Learning to Breathe closes with the driving and ironically titled (because, of course, life is not) "Living is Simple." The album's theme is reinforced yet again, as Jon passionately delivers the lyric "Losing is easy... living is dying/ I can't understand it." Perceptive and analytical without being self-absorbed, Learning to Breathe prods us to think as Switchfoot battens down its uncommonly intelligent lyrics with relentlessly catchy music.

by Bruce A. Brown