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Reed Foehl

Lucky Enough – 2019 (Green Mountain)

Reviewed by Brian Baker

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CDs by Reed Foehl

Reed Foehl may not be well known but he's been active for over three decades, moving his band Acoustic Junction across the country from Boston to Boulder where they made a sizable reputation for themselves on the Colorado circuit. After the band's late '90s dissolution, Foehl went the solo route, occasionally sitting in with his pals in Leftover Salmon and shifting gears from college rock band to alt.folk balladeer, his early songs tinted dark by his divorce and his father's death. Over the past 18 years, Foehl has recorded a quartet of highly regarded albums and placed songs on television shows (Dawson's Creek, The Originals) and in film (Just Friends), surviving on gigs played anywhere and everywhere.

Two years ago, he decided to try his luck in Nashville; he'd co-written the song "Fly" with Brent Cobb, which earned a Grammy nomination on the strength of Lee Ann Womack's stellar 2014 version. He'd only been in town a month when his mother was diagnosed with cancer, necessitating his move back east and a long stint as his mother's caretaker before her eventual passing last year. During that difficult period, Foehl wrote the songs that now comprise his fifth solo album, "Lucky Enough."

Foehl has the same songwriting eye for detail, ear for melody and empathetic soul as peers like Ron Sexsmith and David Olney; when he sings, "We are heartbroken, but lucky enough," on the ostensible title track, "If It Rains," it's clear that he's experienced dark times, but chooses to sing in the light, bruised, but not demoralized.

Any of the 10 songs on "Lucky Enough" - from the country blues croon of "Long Time to Make Old Friends" to the pop waltz of "Carousel Horses" to the Band-like reverie of "He's on an Island" to the John Prine-flecked "Wish I Knew" - would sound spectacular with no more than Foehl and his guitar, but luckily (enough) he enlisted the assistance of Band of Heathens to back him on the album, who helped Foehl buff them to a rich sheen without overpolishing them into something that they're not meant to be. Foehl is not a household name, but he sings about issues that touch every household, and they'd be moved to tears to hear their lives reflected in the beauty and emotion of "Lucky Enough."