The position that Foster enjoys in the country music landscape is remarkable. Mainstream country music and independent Americana tend to occupy separate orbits. Yet for 24 years Foster has thrived in both as a songwriter, recording artist, live performer and producer. His songs--solo, with Foster and Lloyd and recorded by other artists--have topped the country, Texas, Americana, and AAA charts alike. At the same time, he's earned the respect of his peers and a devoted audience as intent on listening as they are eager to dance.
Foster's latest release, Revival emerged when the Texas native plunged into the rolling waters of change--his father's death and the end of his twelve-year, 5,000-mile separation from his son--and came up with renewed conviction.
Arriving a full decade after the intensely personal See What You Want To See and recorded with the same trusted studio team (Darrell Brown and Niko Bolas), the twelve songs on Revival are a solid bookend to the watershed record.
Most of the songs on the album are what Foster calls "close to the bone," so personal that he either wrote them on his own or with trusted friends, like Brown and Jay Clementi. "I Know You Can Hear Me," is a wrenching goodbye to Foster's father. "I Made Peace With God That Day" and "Until It's Gone"--both written with Brown--respectively capture the anguished fear of losing a child and vow to live with abandon (and crank up the volume) from here on out.
Foster has always had the ability to make the personal feel universal, and every song on this set brings the listener closer. There is a piercing honesty to songs like "Forgiveness" and "Life Is Hard (Love Is Easy)."
He also found a way to bridge seduction--something he's sung about plenty and playfully over the years--and spiritual confession. The stylish, shuffling R&B of "Trouble Tonight" runs seamlessly into the choir-backed gospel boogie of "Shed a Little Light." Foster calls it a "Saturday night/Sunday morning combo," the sort of thing his wife used to put on the opposite sides of mixtapes back when they were dating.
With so much at stake in getting the spirit of these songs across, Foster relied on his longtime road band, now appropriately dubbed the Confessions. Thanks to them--and to Foster's own contributions on electric guitar--the album has a big guitar sound and a raw energy. The band adds a relentlessness to "Second Chances" which perfectly matches the lyrics, and a beautiful, stirring soundscape to "Suitcase."
Foster also enlisted the help of some friends. Dierks Bentley (who recorded Foster's "Sweet and Wild") came in to join the party on "Until It's Gone," and Darius Rucker lends his distinctive harmony on "Angel Flight," a moving tribute to the pilots who fly their fallen brethen home to their final resting places. Foster's co-writer, Darden Smith, started writing the song after talking to a pilot of the Texas Air National Guard who mentioned he flew the "angel flight." Smith asked Radney to finish the song with him, and the pair are donating proceeds from the song to a charity that provides assistance to military families beset by tragedy.
The set closes with a bluegrass reprise of the title track. Radney, Tammy Rogers and Jon Randall gathered around a microphone and in one take captured the spirit of Revival--joy and hope in the midst of uncertainty.
True to its title, Revival is the boldest and most spiritual thing Foster has done to date. But it would be a mistake to pigeonhole it strictly as a gospel release; what Foster is preaching here is the gospel of truth, and having the guts to choose love over fear. And like any good revival, this one will have you dancing, crying, laughing and ready to testify. Like he sings in the opening and closing track, Amen to love.
When Radney first told me he was doing an album called “Revival,” I thought that maybe he meant a revival for the greater world; a world that is war weary and suffering. What I didn't realize was that this amazing collection was about to be a revival for my own spirit.
With Revival, Radney takes us on a spiritual journey with a voice so honest and pure it can't help but open our ears to new truth. He speaks of the most powerful kind of love, one that is non-judgmental, universal, and doesn't seek change so much as it seeks to love more. Through his own journey of revival, Radney wrote this record for you and me. He knew that the world is only revived when our individual hearts are rekindled for love.
I am grateful Radney's not a preacher, just a rock and roller with a deep spirit. I am also grateful that Radney loves the world and us enough to send forgiveness through sound waves, to move past our walls of defense and free us to listen. My hope for anyone picking up this CD is that you can join me in singing amen to love. It is an honor to add my name to the host of others that will no doubt go out and love the world again, with this music dancing in our hearts.
The Rev. Becca Stevens, Founder of Magdalene House, Nashville,TN
Singer/songwriter/producer Foster has always been revered in the music community as a lyricist and a dry West Texas poet. One look at the folks who have covered his songs--everyone from Hootie and the Blowfish and the Pistoleros to the Dixie Chicks and Guy Clark--and you realize this guy is not easily categorized.
As one half of the duo Foster and Lloyd, he recorded three groundbreaking albums for RCA, becoming one of the first acts to be played simultaneously on Country and College radio. The duo broke through in the late 80’s, a rare time in Nashville’s history when Country radio welcomed other innovative acts like Lyle Lovett, Nanci Griffith, Steve Earle and Dwight Yoakam. Foster and Lloyd’s “Crazy Over You,” went straight to number one, making them the first duo in history to top the charts with their debut single. Meanwhile, their albums were appearing in the Top Ten on the College chart, sharing common musical ground and press accolades with Rank and File, Lone Justice and the Blasters.
When the duo split up, Foster recorded two solo albums that yielded a handful of hits and a reputation as one of Nashville’s best kept secrets. His songs, like “Nobody Wins” and “A Fine Line” had a lyrical edge and pop sensibilities that often challenged mainstream Country conventions. Throughout his solo career, folks like Emmylou Harris, Hootie and the Blowfish’s Darius Rucker and Dierks Bentey have jumped at the chance to work with him and lend vocal support to his projects--a further testament to Foster’s influence.
Foster has served as host for the critically acclaimed CMT Crossroads, and has produced projects by Jack Ingram, The Randy Rogers Band, Brandon Rhyder and others. His upcoming release, Revival, will be released September 1, 2009.
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