Another Way to Go
Radney Foster’s fourth solo studio record finds the Texas native and Tennessee transplant back in the country camp after 1998’s more experimental See What You Want to See. Opening track, “A Real Fine Place to Start” has a few leftover pop remnants though and a soaring chorus consistent with Foster=EDs best work.
The mandolin-fed “Everyday Angel” reminds me of another likeminded singer, Bruce Robison. Here Foster celebrates ordinary heroes and pays tribute to the victims of September 11th: “Dave was supposed to meet his wife in a coffee shop in Brooklyn/When he heard the alarm sing out/911, he was running up stairs that he never got back down.”
“Sure Feels Right” is less substantial lyrically but it has a nice bounce to it and features the great Kim Richey on background vocals. Other guests on the record include guitarist Joe Pisapia from the Nashville pop band Joe, Marc’s Brother and Nickel Creek mandolin player Chris Thile.
“Disappointing You” is a sad, pretty acoustic ballad with a nice touch of hammer dulcimer. That underused instrument also makes an appearance on “Scary Old World,” a terrific country duet with Chely Wright that Foster co-wrote with legendary songwriter Harlan Howard just before Howard’s death in March.
The record does have its share of clunkers, however. The chorus on the somewhat generic “I Got What You Need” nearly gets away from Foster and strains the limits of his vocal abilities. And “Love Had Something to Say About It” may be one too many soaring soundalike choruses for one CD.
But Foster makes up for those transgressions with “Tired Of Pretending,” a rocker that really works. The title track also works up a good rock and roll steam thanks to Matt Thompson’s drum work and Tony Harrell’s zooming B-3 organ. And “Just Sit Still” is a sweet ballad about stopping to smell the roses and the advantages of just “wasting time” with the one you love.
As to whether Another Way to Go will get Foster back on country radio, who knows? But this record has a few substantial, heartfelt tracks that might make it more listenable.