Ruthie Foster: Joy Comes Back (Blue Corn)

RuthieFoster-oyComesBackRuthie Foster
Joy Comes Back
(Blue Corn)

With an apt title ‘Joy Comes Back,’ Texas troubadour Ruthie Foster returns with her first studio album in three years, and the sound is just that: full of Joy. Foster is known as a blues/roots singer-songwriter, but her vocal and writing abilities reach both ends of the spectrum as she explores the full breadth of gospel to soul, to blues, country and even rocks out a cover of Black Sabbath’s bombast classic “War Pigs.” Foster reinvents the metal standard, playing it loud with resonator guitar and howling blues harp. The 10-song album features many guests, including Derek Trucks, who drops slide guitar into the old-timey gospel- soaked title tune. Bassist Willie Weeks (Bowie, Clapton, George Harrison) plays on Foster’s sultry R&B tune “Open Sky,” and drumming legend Joe Vitale (Crosby, Stills & Nash, the Eagles) appears on several tracks. Grace Pettis adds guitar to the gritty anthem “Working Woman” and vocals on “Good Sailor,” a ballad that details how life’s best lessons are the hard ones. Austin’s Warren Hood lays fiddle and mandolin on the bluegrass-tinted “Richland Woman Blues.” A fat back beat and shimmering piano color the reading of the Four Tops’ “Loving You Is Sweeter than Ever,” and turn it into an Americana meets gospel session. The soulful tome “Abraham” turns the quote from the president, “When I do good, I feel good. When I do bad, I feel bad. That’s my religion,” into an altar call chorus of empowerment. The album closes with the complex and dramatic epic “Forgiven,” that weaves in textures from cello and pedal steel around the challenging lyric that one could imagine being the climactic centerpiece of a Broadway show.