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Radney Foster sparks a revival

Johnny Ds, Somerville, Mass., November 14, 2009

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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Radney Foster told fans that he came home from the University of the South one weekend early in his college career and told his parents in the wee hours of the morning that he wanted to quit college and head to Nashville to pursue a music career. His parents agreed...fortunately.

Three decades later, that resulted in Foster playing songs on this evening from throughout his career, ranging from hits with Foster & Lloyd to Raining on Sunday, which Keith Urban took to near the top of the charts in 2003 to his own hits as a solo artist to cuts from his new disc "Revival," which came out in September.

Foster, who runs his own label and is without the same commercial aspirations as yesteryear, began the 95-minute show on acoustic guitar with A Little Revival, showing much timbre in his vocal delivery. He continued highlighting his new disc with Until It's Gone, which he described "as close to Johnny Cash as I've ever come...I'm still scared he's going to come back from the grave and kick my ass." The fairly fast song had a lot of life, but it didn't quite recall Cash as much as Foster thought it did.

The new disc takes a spiritual slant in taking a look at life. One of the most touching songs Foster played was Angel Flight, a song he wrote with Darden Smith about soldiers who fly home the bodies of deceased soldiers from Iraq. Foster said the sad song did not assume appoint of view about the conflict, but rather told the story of the soldiers involved. Foster sang, "Between heaven and earth, you're never alone - on the Angel Flight, come on brother, I'm taking you home/The cockpit's quiet and the stars are bright - Feels kinda like church in here tonight/It don't matter where we touch down - On the Angel Flight it's a sacred ground."

Foster's voice retained all of its vibrancy and body throughout even as he hit 50. He infused a good amount of emotion within the subject matter of the songs whether it's the what's-the-point of fighting catchy 1992 hit Nobody Wins or his closing song about his young son (at the time, he's now attending college two miles from Foster's home) of Godspeed (Sweet Dreams). Foster helped set the tone for the latter by telling the audience that he has received a lot of response over the years from fans about the song.

Sidekick Eric Borash, aka E-Bo, on acoustic guitar added the right touch throughout with nice acoustic sounds and the necessary backing vocals. Playing without a full-fledged band did not hurt Foster at all and, in fact, placed more emphasis on his songwriting.

About the only complaint was that Foster did not play enough of "Revival." Offering only 4 of the CD's 13 songs, Foster gave short shrift to what is a very fine body of music.

More of that would have made for an even better evening on a rare but welcome trip up north from Foster, who proved he knew a thing or two about writing and performing high quality songs.