Jon ForemanClick here to download a free MP3 of Jon Foreman's "The Cure for Pain."

Though Switchfoot frontman Jon Foreman’s lyrical propensities have long angled toward the pensive, it’s still a little surprising to hear just how completely the arena rocker indulges his softer side on the new Fall and Winter EPs, the first two of his intended set of four seasonally themed projects. As far as rock voices go, Foreman’s has always been a tender one, and it served him well as he conceived this collection of acoustic-led material.

Foreman’s Switchfoot bandmates urged him, he said, to put to tape the ideas deemed too intimate for the band. The two six-song EPs were recorded quickly and simply, the writing of some new songs completed as they were being recorded. The quick-and-dirty recording process is nearly imperceptible; instead there’s a clean, well-shaped simplicity in both discs’ production. Also there is the gripping honesty and a continuation of the stylistic adventurousness Switchfoot showed on their last disc, Oh! Gravity.

Foreman intended to stick to the seasonal themes both lyrically and aesthetically, and it works. Fall’s autumnal strums and fingerpicked melodies match the crumbling ideas they form a bedrock under. “My mind is dull and faded from these years of buy and sell/ My eyes have seen the glory of this hollow modern shell,” he sings in “Lord, Save Me From Myself,” teary, dreary guitar melodies reminiscent of Nick Drake’s Pink Moon tumbling Fall, Winter by Jon Foremanunderneath. The horn-adorned “The Cure for Pain” wonders why doubt won’t let up, Foreman’s falsetto turning fear and frustration into a gorgeous folk chorus.

As was intended, Winter comes off darker and more hopeless as Foreman ruminates on the how and the why behind loss. He’s aching sonically and lyrically, chamber-folk exercises like “Somebody’s Baby” swirling with ominous strings and eerie, reverbed vocal harmonies.

“White as Snow” begs for salvation via interweaving violins, guitar harmonics, and a stark but stomping beat, and a kick drum and handclaps pull along the somber country-folk moods of “I Am Still Running.” “In Love” pulses the stony cool of a Gregorian chant, via the dark, koto-like tones of a Chinese guzheng.

She said, ‘Friend, all along I thought I was learning how to take, how to bend not how to break, how to live not how to cry/ But really I’ve been learning how to die,’” Foreman sings in “Learning How to Die.” They’re not the most comfortable ideas to inhabit, but Foreman’s captured them in gentle melodies as skillfully as he captures Switchfoot’s sentiments in drums-and-distortion form. If the upcoming Spring and Summer EPs are rendered anywhere near as affectingly as he’s captured life’s darker, colder seasons, we’re in for some warmth indeed.