Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A YOUNG PERSON’S GUIDE TO JOSEPHINE FOSTER

JOSEPHINE FOSTER’s bizarre, avant-folk songs travel musical history via a ghostly linkage with the Appalachian porch whisperers of the pre-WWII era, with a pinch of the British Isles folk touch to boot. One thing for certain about her these days is that she doesn’t stand in one place for too long – witness her most recent CD, “A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing”, a German-language run through 19th century tunes that was even too much for me to take. Recently I heard some new material of hers and it was weird-ass, free-form noise. It’s OK – I am fully on board, because I think she is a singular talent, and one of this decade’s true originals. I love the delicate complexity of each ringing tone she coaxes out of her guitar with strange tunings and stranger patterns, and with a voice that's equally as eerie (and beautiful beyond doubt), and which goes through every imaginable permutation to get to the deep emotional truth at each song's core. Foster’s lungs take a little bit of patience for the uninitiated, but at least she sounds like a w-o-m-a-n, albeit a woman transported from 16th century England tearooms by way of Mary Poppins films.

I’m picking a representative smattering of five songs from her catalog for ya. Two are from a heavy psych/folk CD she put out with a backing band called The Supposed (“All The Leaves Are Gone"); one is from her second-ever homemade CD-R (“Little Life") – she has about a half-dozen of those, and you can order some of them right here; one is from her fantastic CD from 2005 “Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You” ; and one was a freebie cover song of THE CHERRY BLOSSOMS, whom Foster has collaborated with) on a comp that came with THE BELIEVER literary magazine. All are superlative. If you like this, there’s a lot, lot more to delve into.

Play or Download JOSEPHINE FOSTER & THE SUPPOSED – “Well-Heeled Men” (from 2004 “All The Leaves Are Gone” CD)
Play or Download
JOSEPHINE FOSTER – “The Golden Window” (from June 2005 compilation CD included with “The Believer” magazine)
Play or Download
JOSEPHINE FOSTER – “There Are Eyes Above” (from 2005 “Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You” CD)
Play or Download JOSEPHINE FOSTER – “Francie’s Song” (from 2001 “Little Life” CD-R)
Play or Download JOSEPHINE FOSTER & THE SUPPOSED – “John Ave. Seen From The Gray Train” (from 2004 “All The Leaves Are Gone” CD)

5 comments:

baba o'houlihan said...

this shit sucks AND it's gay

Anonymous said...

She's one of my faves...I saw her band "Born Heller" a coupla years back, and her voice & songs really shattered me...She does such an amazing variety of sounds too...haven't heard the noise stuff yet...will definitely keep an eye open for it (also, DEFINITELY check out the new Cherry Blossoms album...they are truly unique!!!).

Anonymous said...

she rules. i still think that children's hour cd is better than that born heller lp. when she played with the supposed live it smoked. amazing show.

scott b

Anonymous said...

I agree that live she is great. I was lucky enough to see her perform as a duo with Michael Hurley last fall in LA at Arthurfest. Near perfect. I hope they recorded it . . .

JB

baroquepop said...

I think you've about summed her up. Her fully self-made 'Hazel Eyes I will lead you' is one of my favourites. Simply perfect. Anyone who enjoys Newsom's Milk-eyed Mender should give it a go. As for the rest, I'm slowly warming to This Coming Gladness, but I'd gladly(!) swap the electric guitar for a box of cable ties again.