When we started this reviewing lark we’d sometimes have a record of the week, although we usually forgot: this week it would be this.
Foucault’s from Wisconsin so this is Americana with some of the twang of country. He has an evocative voice and the songs are all good. We’ve not felt this much settled into an Americana singer since we heard Kelly Joe Phelps for the first time. Foucault’s voice is not quite so gravelly as KJP’s but it’s good enough to be an instrument on its own, and slower opener Dishes is pretty much voice and some guitar.
War On The Radio follows and it’s more of an up-tempo rocker with pedal steel and electric guitar that reminds us of John Fogarty. While Dishes is literally about the dishes (“Do the dishes / With the windows open”) War is more a commentary on modern life, from a literal sense: “Just lie back and close your eyes / Listen to the war on the radio” to a more abstract one, “There are so many things to buy / Desolation chief among them”.
The slower Blown is worth the price of admission alone, a beautifully-paced slow tune with lovely guitar, the blown (flooded) rivers perhaps reflecting a broken heart. The title track, which follows, is not exactly filler either, possibly addressing the nature of a broken heart: “How could I know that I would live through / My life haunted by your sad smile?”, possibly unrequited: “Sometimes I hold you / In my dreams at night / I never told you.” You could happily have this song, reminiscent of a slow river meandering under trees on a summer’s day, on repeat for quite some time.
We also like the loping Rio, a love song set on the high plateau of Santa Fe.
The sound is sparse and stripped down: perhaps not surprising as the Press notes say that Foucault and drummer Billy Conway tour as a duo: two men, two chairs; a beat-up Gibson and an electric guitar tuned low and played through a five-watt amp and minimal percussion (suitcase kick drum, low-boy cymbal, snare). The pair play only what they can carry into a club alone in one trip.
The album sees them joined by Bo Ramsey (Lucinda Williams) on electric guitar, Jeremy Moses Curtis (Booker T) on bass, with pedal steel from Eric Heywood (Pretenders, Gretchen Peters, Ray LaMontagne).
A great album to relax to in trouble times.
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