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Jeffrey Foucault - Blood Brothers

  by Stephen Simkin

published: 24 / 8 / 2018

Jeffrey Foucault - Blood Brothers
Label: Jeffrey Foucault
Format: CD


Poetic latest album from New England-based singer-songwriter Jeffrey Foucault who proves himself on it to be a master songwriter in peak form

There is something endearing about the cover shot of Jeffrey Foucault’s latest collection of songs, 'Blood Brothers'. His previous release found him a little out of focus, sepia-tinted, head tilted away from the camera, the cover adorned with the slightly self-consciously literary title 'Salt as Wolves' (a gnomic phrase lifted from Shakespeare’s 'Othello'). On 'Blood Brothers', he is seated at the wheel of his truck, grinning broadly as he returns the viewer’s gaze. The aesthetic shift is indicative of a musical evolution too. 'Salt as Wolves' was blues-based and occasionally seemed a little too monochrome, despite the thrilling songwriting peaks of tracks like ‘Oh Mama’ - all primal, elemental darkness - and the love song ‘Hurricane Lamp’. 'Blood Brothers' finds Foucault drifting back into predominantly country-folk territory. The mood is low key; the instrumentation is for the most part reined in – the only full band sounding song is the second track, the catchy ‘War on the Radio’. Most of the rest is hushed and gentle, although Billy Conway (drums) and Jeremy Moses Curtis (bass) push the songs along effortless grooves, always moving them on, even in their slowest, most thoughtful moments. Foucault’s voice is locked into his familiar yet distinctive tone, melodic and at the same time conversational. You can play this album in the background and it will soothe the soul but listen closer and there’s always this sense of Foucault drawing you into a story, one that you feel you want to share. It’s a very comfortable record to spend time with. There is a homeliness about the album that is established in the opening bars – "Do the dishes, with the window open/Soak the dirt from under your nails" – and a number of the songs explore satisfied domesticity (‘Dishes’), long term love (the gently lilting ‘I Know You’) and looking back on memories of new love from a contented distance (‘Little Warble’). Most of the tracks benefit from Eric Heywood’s measured doses of pedal steel. I’ve been listening to Heywood since he played on Son Volt’s debut Trace in 1995 and reckon I could pick him out in a pedal steel crowd; it’s not an easy instrument to play well, and it’s even harder to fashion a distinctive style as Heywood has done over the years. I find it difficult to pinpoint highlights on an album this good. But at a push I would select the beautiful duet with Tift Merritt, ‘Blown’, which, unlike the majority of the songs, explores the sense of being gone so long or so deeply that the spirit of what was once home has died. And ‘Cheap Suit’, which for me epitomizes Foucault’s lyrical gift: it’s a portrait of his father, of what might have been and what has come to be. Every tiny detail, from the torn screen door to the knock-off Gibson leaning in the corner, is perfectly placed, but what emerges from the parts of the song – the perfectly weighted lines, the gorgeous melody - is something that transcends time and memory and, if the listener will let it, engraves itself on the heart. This is a special record made by a poetic sensibility that finds beauty in the sparks flying from an axe in the hour before dawn, in the warble of a tape deck playing a familiar song, in a blown river, in the tumbling vowels of ‘Albuquerque’, as his wife sings along with Neil Young in the car. Jeffrey Foucault is a national treasure – cherish him.

Track Listing:-
1 Dishes
2 War on the Radio
3 Blown
4 Blood Brothers
5 Little Warble
6 Cheap Suit
7 Rio
8 I Know You
9 Dying Just a Little
10 Pretty Hands

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