There may be a religious theme to many of the songs on Radney Foster’s latest album, but it’s not gospel by any means: if you had to categorise it, it might best be described as a rock album with a slice of country and a slice of gospel.
And the lyrics don’t tell the whole story, because musically this album is very strong. Foster has a clear-cut voice, and has put together a powerful set of mostly high-energy rocking songs, performed admirably by his five-piece band The Confessions. It’s no surprise that the album sound is great, as the engineer is Niko Bolas, renowned for his work with Neil Young.
“A Little Revival” is the upbeat opening track of the album, also reprised at its close. “Until It’s Gone” is another rocker with a message many will relate to: I don’t want life watered down, I want to drink it strong. While a couple of the songs are written by Foster alone, most are collaborations, the majority with his co-producer Darrell Brown. “Angel Flight” is co-written by Foster with Darden Smith, and is a standout track which tells the touching story of the Air National Guard flying fallen soldiers home to their final resting place.
Foster first achieved attention working with Bill Lloyd in the duo Foster and Lloyd, who had success in the US country charts in the late 80s. Since they split, Foster has produced a number of solo albums. It was momentous events in his personal life that helped provide the spur to write this album. The CD is dedicated to his father, who died in 2008, and “I Know You Can Hear Me” is a lovely tale of using the same words back to his father when he was dying that his father said to him when he was a child.
Also around this time Foster was re-united with his son after a 12-year, 5,000-mile separation (after Foster divorced from his wife, she moved to France with their young son). In his own words: “Losing my dad and having my son come home made me go through a period of reflection. It’s brought me in many ways closer to God, and it’s filled me in many ways with more doubts than I ever had before. I couldn’t help but pour all of that into these songs.”
As mentioned, a number of the songs have a religious or spiritual thread, such as “I Made Peace With God”. The song has Foster singing at his best, with lovely cello accompaniment, but the lyrics might be a little mawkish for some.
All in all, this is a powerful set of songs with thoughtful lyrics.