This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 6/04
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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Jeffrey Foucault has to be an old soul, despite his
relatively young numerical age--late twenties? early thirties?. The
tool of measurement for this judgment is the depth and literacy of his
music. How else can this be explained?
Foucault's sometimes oblique offerings spin off an axis of calluses and
scars, leavened by bleak memories, questionable
choices and a generous helping of truth.
Take the opening cut, "Cross Of Flowers." Foucault begins
this you-can-go-home-again-but-who-would-want-to-in-this-case song with:
"There's a cross of flowers on the roadside
Where some fool bought it two years back
There's an orchard gone to hell
Beside a burned out one room shack..."
"...And I always said I loved you
I never said I loved you well..."
"Doubletree" won't be picked up anytime soon by the hotel chain
as its flagship tune because, although quite moving, it's a matter-of-fact
portrayal of serendipity in reverse.
The title cut, "Stripping Cane," is a superb example of
Foucault's lyrical skill. Depicting the downward state of a
relationship (and the writing is this good throughout this song and the
release), he writes:
"...I've got nowhere to go now
I'm like a bird in an eclipse
And the grammar of our bodies
Breathing poems to our lips
Breathing verses out of rhyme..."
The personas of George Armstrong Custer, Buffalo Bill Cody and
Sitting Bull, along with "wild west shows" are all entwined in "Pearl
Handled Pistol." Foucault manages to strike a little levity here
employing references to scalping as "...take a little off the top" and
the whoops and hollers of the victors with "...making a joyful noise".
"Northbound 35," ostensibly a road-titled song but more about relationships, contains these gems:
"...It's just the flashes that we own
Made from breath and from bone
And out on the darkling plane alone
They light up the sky...
...Mustang horses, champagne glasses
Anything frail, anything wild
It's the price of living motion
-What's beautiful is broken
And grace is just the measure of a fall..."
"Tropic Of Cancer" is unrelated to the late Henry Miller novel, I think. One of the most densest of the songs on this
release, it exemplifies Foucault at his best:
"...The heart as it relaxes
Undressed upon its axis
Like a plain girl
With all the paint rubbed off
It whispers to our bones
That we are everyone alone
Of the word and by the word again forsaken..."
And, also very important, is the texture David Goodrich
provides with his turns on various instruments throughout this release.
Whether it be on myriad of guitars, banjo or mandolin, Goodrich is
ever-present with just the right touches and backing.
Foucault's writing could stand as poetry. His lyrics daringly
but lovingly lift the listener far beyond the pedestrian where it's
impossible to jump ahead and 'guess' any succeeding lines. He may take you
from point a to point b, but it's generally on a previously undiscovered route.
This CD will be on anyone's and everyone's list of the best
releases of 2004.
In the For What It's Worth Department: Maybe it's just me and
my questionable eyesight, but doesn't Foucault look a bit like a less
hirsute Robery Earl Keen, with maybe a touch of George Clooney thrown
in for good measure?
Foucault, on vocals, acoustic guitar, electric
guitar and banjo, is assisted by David Goodrich on acoustic guitar,
mandolin, Nashville guitar, electric guitar, slide guitar, tambourine
and banjo, Peter Mulvey
on vocals and electric guitar; Anita Suhanin on vocals; Kris Delmhorst
on fiddle and vocals; and Kevin Barry on electric lap steel guitar.
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