A Review of the Jeffrey Foucault CD
"Stripping Cane"

"Stripping Cane"
by Jeffrey Foucault

Copyright 2004
Signature Sounds

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..."

He closes:

"...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
Little snapshots
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.

Track List:

All songs written by Jeffrey Foucault, except as noted.

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