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Fall and Winter

: Fall and Winter

Label:Credential Recordings
Release Date:2008

By Bret McCabe | Posted 1/23/2008

Nobody wants to be the guy advocating not giving money to nonprofit organizations that serve Third World countries, but sometimes that's the collateral damage of having taste. Woolly San Diego alt-rock outfit Switchfoot started its lowercase people organization as an avenue for a magazine, an apparel line, a record label--which has issued Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman's two-CD Fall and Winter, a pairing of two EPs--and the humanitarian effort lowercase people Justice Fund. The fund's purpose is to provide aid to Third World communities in partnership with philanthropy adviser Geneva Global. A portion of the proceeds of Fall and Winter--whose digipak is printed on recycled paper, natch--goes to the Justice Fund, as worthy a cause as any.

Too bad the album contains such vanilla midtempo singer/songwriter fare that permeates Starbucks shops and other quasi-boutique retail chains that have moved away from Muzak as Generation X inched up in tax brackets and transmogrified into grups. Foreman possesses one of those patently inoffensive voices--rough-hewn when he needs it to be, melodramatically cracking in falsetto, well suited to line-ending short-vowel rhyme schemes--that can be effortlessly draped over plaintive piano plinking ("My Love Goes Free") or ruminative guitar pick and strum (the other 11 songs here). He's the sort of vocalist that sounds whiter than Daniel Powter.

Foreman sings about the ups and down of love, getting over sadness/hard times, the joys of getting to know her, and nondenominational faith-based beliefs. Producer Charlie Peacock lends the whole affair a crisp polish, taut enough to ease into the WTMD playlist but casual enough to catch the squelch of fingers moving along acoustic guitar strings. Mournful woodwinds and mandolin add a rootsy patina every so often, as do percussive textures that swirl into a staccato rhythmic texture, but, in the end, it's mere wallpaper to Foreman's sheepish sincerity. It's not awful, merely unrepentantly average.

E-mail Bret McCabe

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