“Fools Gold,” the closing track on Fiction Family’s sophomore album Fiction Family Reunion, stands on some pretty tall shoulders. In the first verse, singer Jon Foreman declares, “I found a picture of you in black and white/ Looking like Bob Dylan’s disciple.” And just two verses later, he confesses, “You swore to me that we’d always be close/ singing Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah.’” These are fairly huge names to be dropping, if fairly obvious ones in a folk-rock song so clearly influenced by both singer-songwriters, but to their credit, Fiction Family do a respectable job of holding their own in a tradition of epic, affecting acoustic balladry.
This is not to say that Foreman, whose other gig is fronting Southern California alt-rockers Switchfoot, is in the same league as Dylan or Cohen. He’s got a long way to go before being able to carry that kind of emotional or intellectual weight. But “Fools Gold” isn’t a bad start, its simple, strummable melody and nostalgic melancholy aiming straight for the heartstrings. In the end, Foreman laments, “You’re out digging for what’s left of our souls/ In the ashes of rock ‘n’ roll,” but based on this track, which has absorbed the flavors of generations of rock and folk music before it, there’s still some life in rock music yet before it’s time to start planning the funeral.