I have been trying to come up with a perfect analogy for Remember, Future of Forestry’s new album. So far, it’s been a mostly unsuccessful effort. What I’ve landed on is not perfect, but it is the best I have at this point. Remember is a love letter. An intimate correspondence meant to encourage. In tone, style, and theme, it is deeply personal, reflective, and uplifting. Through a collection of eight songs, Eric Owyoung (the musical genius behind Future of Forestry) speaks directly to our hearts and souls in this time of confusion and fear. There is no cynicism, snark, or irony to be found on the album. So, if complete sincerity is not your thing, Remember won’t be for you. But, if your heart is open and your defenses are down, this album is going to take you on an emotional journey you may not be prepared for.
There was a time when albums were meant to be listened to as a whole, in a particular sequence. Not every album, mind you, but many were specifically written and delivered as one cohesive statement, instead of a loose grouping of songs. Remember’s songs and sequence feel intentional, from the first note to the last. While I cannot prove this, it feels obvious considering how “Future of Forestry” writes and creates albums. These albums are completely independent which allows them to be exactly what Future of Forestry wants them to be, instead of working with studios and record companies to reach some sort of compromise.
The sum is greater than the parts
With that in mind, my contention is that Remember is intended to be listened to in order. From the anthemic “Turn Your Heart” to the eternity-soaked “Carry”. Sure, each song holds its own power and will work just fine alone, but the sum is greater than the parts. There is a musical cohesion throughout the album, though with enough variety to keep things fresh. Remember is tonally rich, full of orchestral production, piano and keyboard lead songs, and an inventive rhythm section.
The opening song sets the stage perfectly. “Turn Your Heart” is meant as a divine call. The drive, tempo, and lyrics all work in tandem to awaken our hearts to our Creator’s call. It’s upbeat and dynamic. That transitions perfectly to “Sight of You”, which is nothing if not a response to the clarion call. It is the natural response to the only voice which brings us life. The music switches from a more expansive sound to something rhythmically steady and pensive, yet with a sense of playfulness. It’s a perfect progression and showcases Future of Forestry’s mastery of style and sound.
“All the while my love you were a child of mine.”
“Listening” continues the overarching theme of the album – God’s undying devotion for His children. Again, the music moves into more ambitious territory, juxtaposing contemplative verses with sonorous choruses. The contrast between the delicate strings and the pounding drums really brings it all together.
What follows is my favorite track of this new offering. Sometimes words and music come together perfectly, in some sort of transcendent symmetry. When that happens, magic follows. “Tears” is magic, pure and simple. It knocks you down with hope and beauty. And then it picks you up again. Music can minister to our souls and this song ministers. The first half of the song is solemn, with the voice of God reaching out to comfort His children. The second half is our soul’s response to that amazing truth. It is epic and ascendant. There is such spiritual yearning and holy embrace captured in those final joyous minutes. Ending it with the sound of children’s voices is particularly effective.
Moving towards eternity
The second half of the album is ushered in by a challenge. “Now” cries out for a response. A choice. Now that we know our place, our home, we must take the next steps. Once again, the music matches the theme with precision. Hammering drums, a droning bass line, and expansive keyboard and string arrangement effortlessly complement each other.
The title track is a delicate whisper compared to some of the other songs, but it packs no less of a punch. There is a gentleness to the song which makes its message all the more powerful. “Just remember who you are, Just remember who you’ve been while I was standing by your side.”
“Tonight you hear the call of love you hear in you”
What follows is the most complicated song on the album and one I wrestled with when I first heard it when it was released in advance of the album. Examined in a vacuum, I would find the lyrics slightly problematic in their focus on identity and self. But, I feel pretty confident that the song is meant to be heard and understood in the progression of the previous six songs. Without that foundation, the message could easily be muddled and lost. Instead, when seen through the eyes of the rest of the album, the identity found and celebrated in “Free” is miraculous and divinely orchestrated. Owyoung opts to crank up the energy to end the track and it’s a welcome release.
The album closes with “Carry” which might be the most poetic and beautiful song in the bunch. Enveloped by tender piano and ambient orchestration, Owyoung paints a lovely picture of peace in the eyes of death. Honestly, he could have chosen more bombast and noise, but wisely opts to end things on a delicate note.
“You’re never alone”
If you feel worn down, tired, or discouraged, Remember is a wonderful remedy. Take some time to work your way through the album, preferably with headphones, and let it work on you. The entire album feels envisioned and crafted to help the listener heal. To feel loved, protected, and guided. It’s beautiful stuff and could not be more timely. I hope you fall in love with it as much as I have.