Artist: Future of Forestry
Label: Credential Recordings
Length: 6 tracks / 24:28
The music is mesmerizing and ethereal. The vocals are hypnotic yet passionate. The overall effect is intensely personal and intimate yet filled with the immediacy and power of expertly crafted Indy rock. This could only be one of a select handful of modern bands in the Christian music scene – in this case, Future of Forestry. The usual trend is for groups to attempt 'bigger and better' projects after the initial launch, but Eric Owyoung, unquestionably the heart and soul of Future of Forestry, has instead decided to look inside to find a more personal space to explore. That's what Travel II, the second in a trilogy of mini-projects that I've dubbed 'intro-pop' for their introspective, poetic tone, is all about – exploring.
Writer, producer, mixer, singer and multi-instrumentalist Owyoung even did the photography for the projects and makes it a family affair with his wife Tamara's impressive art nouveau-inspired artwork rounding out the packaging. Even with the help of Ben Wurzell on bass and T.J. Hill on drums ('and instruments') the project sounds more like the home-made solo work of the McCartney album, with the same kind of quiet charm featured on the best tracks on that first post-Beatle solo outing.
Owyoung, credited with playing everything from Hammond Organ, guitar, glockenspiel, harmonium, Japanese Taiko drum and theremin to kitchen drawers (!), creates a warm and hooky sextet of songs with a melodic and aural sense that bring to mind not only early McCartney, but David Byrne and Adrian Belew as well. Certainly, the vocals, warm and invitingly vulnerable, echo Belew in the frequent falsetto that Owyoung slips in and out of so comfortably.
The album starts off with a barrage of percussion and settles into a strong mid-tempo pop mode on “Hills of Indigo Blue.” The use of percussion in the arrangements is more orchestral than simply rhythmic and features strongly on the next-to-last track, “So Close So Far,” in a more primitive 'stomp' mode. “Holiday” is the closest thing to a commercial vehicle – one could very easily imagine Jars of Clay performing the song. For all of his introspection and thoughtfulness, Owyoung isn't without a sense of humor, as the 'bad' guitar solo on “Set Your Sails” attests.
For those that enjoyed Jon Foreman's seasonal quartet of EPs, I highly recommend Future of Forestry's Travel series – for me, the first two have been as personal as Foreman's non-Switchfoot solo projects and have a similar personal ambiance. Obviously, these are labors of love, and much thought and care have gone into every aspect from the artwork to the music itself. Like its predecessor, Travel II is very listenable, well-crafted, off-the-beaten-track pop music that will stay with you all day once you let it get under your skin. Recommended.