More musically learned than any folk musician likely to come your way, the Colorado born Josephine Foster has kept fans and critical interest ablaze with different stylistic shake ups placed into each of her releases. The fact that Blood Rushing is the first solo effort released under her own name since 2009 shows how unpredictable and experimental the sometimes psychedelic rock, sometimes German ‘lieder’ singer songwriter can truly be.
The record is written as a potent cross between a character study and a concept album, wherein our country singer inhabits the mind of ‘Blushing’, a heteronym persona used to explore the inner workings of the artist’s homeland, symbolized by her self-supplied front cover. It’s eerily appropriate given Foster’s exploration into pan-Spanish folk music and culture in 2010’s Anda Jaleo, with our heroine’s origin story as a "valley child in a" “Panorama Wide” leading to a “Child of God” who is "living in the city getting high on the hawk". Well that’s one guess, as Josephine’s operatic vocals (stunning as they are) might leave you straining to decipher a word or two. In some cases that’s not a great effort, with title track “Blood Rushing” repeating its four or so lines with regular interludes, but if the entirety of the lyrics in “Wave of Love” hadn’t been spelt out in its title, the high pitched singing might have disguised the latter word as ‘laugh’.
If all this sounds daunting, in actual listening Blood Rushing is easier than its lyrical concepts set it up to be. Teaming up once again with her partner, Spanish guitarist Victor Herrero, and musicians Paz Lenchantin (The Entrance Band), Heather Trost (A Hawk and a Hacksaw) and Ben Trimble (Fly Golden Eagle), she exposes a delicate singing voice that’s never assaulted or undone by the accompanying percussion, string work or rare uses of electric guitar. If you were desperate for a technical summation of Josephine’s sound you’d best skip to “Underwater Daughter”; a track in which every note and beat strives for beauty, outdone only by the occasional deliberate silence. Be careful you don’t travel one song too early though, as preceding track “Geyser”, marked by the opening screech of deliberately misplayed violin, is the album’s single foray into the psychedelic region Foster previously occupied, and it’s irritably noticeable.
Despite this choice nitpick, Blood Rushing succeeds thanks to ample pacing and the comfortable arrangement quickly established through a sober form of expression. There are minor flaws in the delivery of its lyricism, but these tracks somehow succeed in telling a complete story by a more ethereal definition. The words and music are used to evoke a romantic interest in the atmosphere a location or object brings, with language itself matching the elegance of what is conveyed, such as “the sweet little pearls in the waters of mankind”. If for nothing else, marvel at the fact that the opening track “Waterfall” utilizes the normally silly twang of the jaw harp without killing the mood like the instrument has done to every other folk song it’s in.
Release: 18th September 2012, Fire Records