Release Date: Feb 5, 2016
Record label: Fire Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Indie Folk
I‘m in a unique position to review No More Lamps In The Morning, the newest collection from Colorado maven Josephine Foster, for a couple of reasons. For starters, this actually marks the first time I’ve heard her music, despite the fact that she’s been writing tenuous, striking folk songs for some time now. But much more importantly, No More Lamps In The Morning is a peculiar entry for Foster, because it consists almost entirely of songs from her past releases, reinterpreted by Foster and longtime husband Victor Herrero.
Well, this is unusual. The Colorado singer songwriter Josephine Foster has never delivered anything remotely ordinary – in the past she’s released fractured lullabies and Tin Pan Alley ukulele cabaret – but even by her standards, starting an album by setting Rudyard Kipling’s Blue Roses to music before taking off into a chromatic distillation of A Thimbleful Of Milk takes some nerve. Like a spiritual successor to Kathleen Ferrier, Cathy Berberian, Karen Dalton and Tim Buckley; Foster is all about vocal integrity.
There are very few voices in music to match that of Josephine Foster; something of an acquired taste, but one worth giving time to become accustomed to. At times she taps into the kooky weirdness of Kate Bush and Joanna Newsom, occasionally she’s the organic representation of a singing saw, and, every so often, she’s the strange old woman singing wartime tunes at her own reflection in the window on the bus to nowhere. So there’s no better person to appraise her idiosyncratic body of work than Foster herself.
Sixteen years into her career, indie folk outsider Josephine Foster remains a polarizing figure with a distinctive sound that is as challenging as it is beguiling. Possessed of a warbling, highly affected mezzo-soprano and an oeuvre that tends to skew more toward prewar jazz and Americana or pre-20th century folk than anything overtly pop, her sparsely adorned reinterpretations of several previously released songs won't come as a huge surprise to fans. Played live in the studio with Foster on classical guitar and husband Victor Herrero on the 12-string Portuguese guitar, No More Lamps in the Morning comprises six career-spanning highlights along with one new song set to the James Joyce poem "My Dove, My Beautiful One.
Josephine Foster's latest album No More Lamps in the Morning is billed as 'stripped down', which is saying something considering the word 'sparse' might best describe her past work. It's true that 2012's Blood Rushing used a small group of American and Spanish folk guitarists, and 2013's I'm A Dreamer depended heavily on just guitar, piano and double bass for its early jazz and blues feel – but both featured these instruments more fully than her latest release. This sparing accompaniment is part of what makes No More Lamps In The Morning so dramatic – it grabs you from the first note.