It’s May in Wisconsin (when a late snowstorm is always possible), so it’s still fine to say that Fiction Family’s opening song, “When She’s Near,” is perfect pop rock for melting snow and spring like XTC’s Skylarking. It’s Rubber Soul-era melding into Paul McCartney’s Wings.
Fiction Family is Jonathan Foreman from Switchfoot and Sean Watkins from Nickel Creek. The self-titled disc doesn’t end up anywhere near Switchfoot’s electric surf blast, and while the acoustic accoutrements of Nickel Creek’s New Grass definitely decorate the scenery, this isn’t a bluegrass disc.
“Not Sure” has a little Jam to it, like Ben Taylor picking guitar on a 70’s folk rock air morphing into country. “Betrayal” sends up a bluegrass-type backing to Foreman’s normal lyrical line; it ends up hitting a worship music like place.
Like Foreman’s series of EPs in 2008, which wandered off rather than following something, Fiction Family’s disc feels unfinished, undeveloped, like demos. However, out of the sketches of sound comes “Elements Combined,” a country-influenced folk rock. Then “War in My Blood” is a foot-tapping song, deep in wonder and struggle.
The disc goes out on a little ragtime ditty, “Look for Me Baby,” which makes me think even more that the whole disc is just a look into what happens when two friends, good musicians and songwriters, get together for awhile. As listeners, we’re eavesdroppers—not necessarily an audience.