Josephine Foster – Hazel

Josephine Foster
Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You
Locust (L 68)
Chicago-based Josephine Foster’s Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You has a lot in common with various shining stars of the current new folk scene, such as Devendra Banhart, Joanna Newsom and Coco Rosie. At first the singing sounds affected, and one is distracted by the mannerisms and deliberate archaisms. Then one notices how beautiful Foster’s voice is and how gorgeous the songwriting here is, and all the isms start to disappear. A classically trained singer, who’s also been part of two other Locust acts, Born Heller and The Supposed, Foster accompanies herself here on acoustic guitar, the vocals sometimes multitracked into delicate lovely tonal spirals. The sound is warm and intimate, displaced in charming ways by the addition of a variety of string instruments, castanets, bells, kazoos and other sonic incidentals. There’s a nostalgia at work here in these songs, that feels like a very far off radio station broadcasting old songs. But the person singing these songs is in fact very close by, and this makes hearing her sing all the more heart-breaking.

originally published in Signal to Noise, 2005.

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