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Album Review

A kaleidoscope of sonic influences swirls through Switchfoot's 10th album, Where the Light Shines Through. Sometimes I hear a bit of Maroon 5. Other times, some Beach Boys. Foster the People. The Beatles. Jimi Hendrix. A pinch of Queen, a little Jack Johnson, a dash of Prince. Gospel. Rap. Pop. Rock. Funk. Island-inspired melodic breezes. There's a lotta musical gumbo deliciously simmering (as TobyMac might describe it) on this album.

In the end, though, it still sounds umistakeably like Switchfoot.

And that swirling symphony of sounds is all in the service of messages baptized in pain but drenched in redemption.

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"The Day That I Found God" says that to find Him, we first have to let go of ourselves: "The day I lost myself was the day that I found God." Elsewhere, the song identifies barriers that can keep us from finding God, including "the shame of my accuser," being "fearful about the future," "looking for my own solutions" and even discovering that "my liberties weren't the freedoms I had sought." In the end, the band affirms humbly, "And all I know is that I still don't know a lot/I don't know how it ends, I'm in the middle of this plot/Yeah, and I found grace for the man that I am not."

"Where the Light Shines Through" poignantly unpacks the paradox of how God works in and through our deepest wounds. "'Cause your scars shine like a dark star/Yeah, your wounds are where the light shines through/So let's go there, to that place where/We sing these broken prayers where the light shines through." "I Won't Let You Go" gently nudges listeners to trust God as it delivers that message from His perspective: "If you could only let go of your doubts/If you could just believe in Me now/I swear that I won't let you go." The song also explores how our deepest struggles are exactly where God works redemptively in our lives: "You want peace, but there's a war in your head/Maybe that's where life is born/When our facades are torn/Pain gives birth to the promise ahead."

"Holy Water" contrasts images of being parched and being refreshed ("On the thirsty ground/Let the rains come down/I want to drink the clouds/Like holy water"). That metaphorical quenching hints at the transformation of baptism ("Give me the waters that could help me heal and/Hold the old me down/ … And I'm praying for rain/I want to make that change/I got Your blood in my veins/Like holy water"). "Looking for America" finds rapper Lecrae joining Switchfoot in a song of hope amid our current lamentation-filled cultural moment: "The shattered glass where the bullets broke in/I'm looking for the place that I was born/I'm looking for a way to fix what's torn/I'm looking for America."

"Float" emphasizes friendship and freedom. "If the House Burns Down Tonight" powerfully proclaims that our greatest treasures in life are our relationships, not the material things that sometimes enchant our hearts ("If the house burns down tonight/I got everything I need when I got you by my side/And let the rest burn"). "Shake This Feeling" strives to work through marital struggles ("We both started with a broken heart/And there's a problem, that's a start/ … 'Cause everybody wants to rock and roll/But a couple of years, and it takes a toll/And I wanna start healing"). Likewise, "Healer of Souls" longs for wholeness and belonging ("Take me to the Healer of Souls/ … We're gonna watch these scars just fade away, we're gonna make it home").

"Live It Well" majors in that motivating message ("Life is short, I wanna live it well/One life, one story to tell"), then fuses it to God-centered faith ("And You're the One I'm living for/Awaken, all my soul"). Finally, "Hope Is the Anthem" declares, "My freedom, my song/Your hope is the anthem of my soul."

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Summary Advisory

One of my favorite Scripture passages illustrating what an abundant Christian life looks like comes near the end of the Apostle Paul's letter to the church of Rome: "I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit" (Romans 15:13, New Living Translation).

I think Switchfoot's lyrics on this album (as well as previous efforts) embody Paul's petition. These songs overflow with hope. It doesn't mean that there's never pain, never doubt, never struggle. Indeed, all of those things show up in Switchfoot's lyrics. Jon Foreman and Co. are in touch with the reality that we're all broken, that we're all sojourning in a broken world.

But as we trust God, our resolve is renewed, our anxieties assuaged, our perspective on life restored. Those truths come streaming brilliantly through on Switchfoot's aptly titled Where the Light Shines Through.

Plot Summary

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Record Label

Vanguard Records, Concord Music Group




July 7, 2016

On Video

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Adam R. Holz

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