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Jeffrey Foucault
Ghost Repeater

Review By Steven Stone
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CD Number: Signature Sounds SIG 1298 

 

  Anger, when channeled into art, can create wonderful results. Unlike most of us, whose true feelings about the Iraqi war, Hurricane Katrina, and what passes for contemporary pop culture remain bottled up, Jeffrey Foucault had the opportunity to vent his feelings on Ghost Repeater. Younger or less accomplished performers would merely create angry screed, but Foucault, with the help of producer Bo Ramsey, has cobbled together an album full of regret, hope, humor, and joy.

Even on the darkest lyrics Foucault's voice has an inviting intimacy reminiscent of other great American vocalists such as Greg Brown, John Gorka, and Lyle Lovett. Well-grounded in traditional folk music, Foucault's original tunes are melodically comfortable while his lyrics provoke images and ideas that you won't find in a usual folk tune. His best work, such as "One Part Love" invokes rich visual imagery while simultaneously streaming a beautiful melody. On "Wild Waste and Welter" Foucault displays his ability to use his country blues acoustic picking style and vocal inflections to create a haunting modern melody where the devil at the crossroads takes on a contemporary form.

Although he employs a full band, the arrangements on Ghost Repeater all have a spare acoustic quality that keeps the focus on the music's message. Producer Bo Ramsey plays electric resonator and Weissenborn guitars with Jeffrey Foucault handling all the acoustic guitar and lead vocals. Other musicians on Ghost Repeater include Rick Cicalo on bass, Steve Hayes on drums and percussion, Dave Moore on accordion, Eric Heywood on pedal steel guitar, Nate Basinger on Hammond organ and Wurlitzer, and Kris Delmhorst on backing vocals. Mostly recorded at the Mistral studios in Iowa City, Iowa, by John Svec, additional engineering was done by Lorne Entress at Busterland Studios in Glastonbury, CT, and Dirk Freymuth in Los Angeles, CA. Mixer Tom Tucker did a superb job of retaining a natural acoustic feeling while keeping Jeffrey Foucault's voice in the foreground. In the liner notes, it states that not only does Jeffrey Foucault endorse C.F. Martin guitars but also Brett Favre. I wonder if Martin is considering a Green Bay Packer special edition model.

While much of popular folk music is about resurrecting old musical forms and tunes, there's always been a place in the folk scene for modern songs and ideas. Jeffrey Foucault reminds me of a 21st century Pete Seeger who can combine contemporary internal and external issues with traditional influences. The result is both comforting and intellectually provoking, which is exactly what art is all about.

 

 

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