The world feels horrible lately. There’s no getting around that. However, it’s important for us to remember our core humanity: our ability to appreciate the small moments, to remember that the vast majority of people are essentially good. Enter Jeffrey Foucault with his new album Blood Brothers. The album, Foucault’s follow-up to 2015’s acclaimed Salt as Wolves, was recorded in three days at Pachyderm Studios in Minnesota. You wouldn’t know it, though; Blood Brothers is a patient album that makes as much use of negative space as it does of muted pedal steel and patient guitar strums.
In a word, Blood Brothers is unhurried. Foucault credits this this texture to two things: his approach to songwriting and his band of heavy hitters. “I wrote these faster than on previous records, 6 of 10 of them in the weeks between booking the studio and the session. I generally tried to leave out metaphors and write more literally, relying on approach to subject, or the order of telling, to create the feeling the songs explore. I tried to keep the language open, leave room for people to find their own lives and experiences in them.”
Secondly, there’s Foucault’s band: drummer Billy Conway (Morphine), Bo Ramsey (Lucinda Williams) on electric guitars, and Jeremy Moses Curtis (Booker T) on bass, and joined this time by pedal steel great Eric Heywood (Pretenders). “It wasn’t my specific intent but a result of the history the band shares, and the desire we all have to give weight to space and silence. It’s a band that looks for opportunities to not play, with the result that a lot of the songs feel arranged, though we generally only played through them once or twice before cutting them. The songs on this record work in the mode of reverie, where love and time come together. They called for a certain gentleness.”
That being said, Blood Brothers packs a punch. In the album’s second track, “War on the Radio,” Foucault delves deep into the impacts of endless war on the American psyche.
“I don’t have much use for protest songs. They’re silly and self-indulgent, inviting people to feel smug over doing nothing, or they let people off the hook because they can simply dismiss out-of-hand some political sentiment they disagree with. A song like ‘War on the Radio’ is meant to be visceral, to make people feel seasick, point out that complicity is the dominant fact of modern living. If it succeeds at all it’s because the language is imprecise, and the song draws you in with a bright rock’n’roll hook but then doesn’t let you feel good. Reinhold Niebuhr wrote a book called ‘The Irony of American History,’ and that would make a nice subtitle for this song.”
However, for the most part, Foucault unfurls stories of love and contemplation with a soft hand. It may not be strident, but Blood Brothers is the kind of album we need in times like these.
You can purchase Blood Brothers and learn more about Foucault here.
Jeffrey Foucault Tour Dates
Jun 20 – Sioux Falls, S.D. – White Wall Sessions
Jun 21 – Minneapolis, Minn. – Dakota Jazz Club
Jun 22 – Des Moines, Iowa – Des Moines Arts Festival
Aug 23 – Tonder, Denmark – Tonder Folk Festival
Aug 28 – Norderstedt, Germany – Music Star
Aug 29 – Oldenburg, Germany – Singers & Players at Theater Laboratorium
Sep 03 – Eindhoven, Netherlands – De Maandag van Meurs at Muziekgebouw
Sep 04 – Arnhem, Netherlands – luxorlive
Sep 05 – Bergen Op Zoom, Netherlands – Crossroads Radio at Zwijnshoofd
Sep 07 – Haarlem, Netherlands– Patronaar
Sep 08 – Eeklo, Belgium – N9
Oct 04 – Exeter, N.H. – The Word Barn
Oct 05 – Boston, Mass. – City Winery
Oct 06 – Turners Falls, Mass.– The Shea Theatre
Oct 07 – Burlington, Vt. – Higher Ground
Oct 10 – Washington, D.C. – The Hamilton
Oct 11 – Columbia, Md. – The Soundry
Oct 14 – New York, N.Y. – TBD
Nov 06 – Seattle, Wash. – The Triple Door
Nov 14 – Helena, Mont. – The Myra Loy Theatre
Nov 15 – Bozeman, Mont. – The Rialto
Nov 16 – Missoula, Mont. – The Top Hat
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