Joy Comes Back
Stone Truth Music/Blue Corn Music
Ruthie Foster is still on a roll. The former gospel singer won her first Blues Music Award as Contemporary Blues Female Artist of The Year in 2010. Since then she won the BMA for Traditional Blues Female Artist a.k.a. The Koko Taylor Award five times. Each of her last three albums have also received Grammy award nominations the last being for 2014’s “Promise of a Brand New Day”.
At the time Foster began this new album, her tenth, she had just separated from her partner and so she coped by delving into her music. Foster chose to be positive, even optimistic, something she learned from singing gospel. The band includes Foster, acoustic guitars and vocals; producer Daniel Barrett (from the blues trio Porterdavis), electric guitar and percussion; Frank LoCrasto, keyboards; Larry Fulcher, bass; and Joe Vitale or Dennis Bee, drums.
Barrett helped with the song selection. The songs are from a variety of different artists and genres; even though each song speaks to Foster. She opens with a country song from Chris Stapleton, “What Are You Listening To?” and it’s the perfect way to open this fine album. Foster and Barrett are on their guitars while the rhythm section is Fulcher and Vitale.
“Working Woman” is a song that Foster easily identifies with. “She’s overtime and underpaid…so get your glass up for the working woman”. It was written by Grace Pettis, the daughter of singer/songwriter Pierce Pettis, who is also on acoustic guitar. “Good Sailor” was co-written by Pettis and Haley Cole. Foster sings “I’ve been tossed around in the deepest blue, I almost drowned a time or two, but easy living never did me no favors, smooth seas never made a good sailor”.
The gospel tinged title track “Joy Comes Back” is from Nashville based songwriter Sean Staples. When Foster told Barrett that the sisters at her childhood church provided percussion by tapping their heels he borrowed some high heels and miked the studios oak floor. Red Young is on piano and organ; while Derek Trucks is on slide guitar. “I won’t be down for long…I want to be ready when joy comes back to me”.
Foster admits that it was difficult for her to write during this time but she did manage to compose “Open Sky”, featuring Willie Weeks on bass. Between 1974 and 1982 Weeks recorded six albums with George Harrison and later on toured with Eric Clapton. Vitale plays drums and adds some really nice percussion. “Something in my heart won’t say what the rest of me knows…lately I don’t have a clue where I want to go…catch me while I’m falling I don’t want to touch the ground…”
“War Pigs” is from the heavy metal band Black Sabbath and originally appeared on their 1970 album Paranoid with lyrics written by Geezer Butler. Simon Wallace also from Porterdavis plays harmonica.
“Loving You is Sweeter Than Ever” was written by Ivy Jo Hunter and Stevie Wonder and was a single for The Four Tops in 1966. LoCrasto is on piano.
“Richland Woman Blues” is from Mississippi John Hurt and appears on his 1963 album “Avalon Blues”. Warren Hood is on fiddle and mandolin while Foster plays a Dobro.
“Abraham” was written by Shawnee Kilgore. Foster is elegant as she sings “when I do good, I feel good”.
“Forgiven” is from Deb Talan of the folk-pop duo the Weepies. Foster states that this song expresses feelings she had at the time of this recording.
Foster connects to the words in these songs and the songs become her own. Foster is indomitable.
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