Radney Foster - Revival

Radney Foster is one of those artists that seems to get better with each album he records.  While country radio has outgrown Radney (or is it Radney outgrew them), He still writes hits.  What makes this record worthy of listening to?

The album starts out with "A Little Revival," a spiritually-themed up-tempo which uses pointed language to tell of redemption through those people who are right there when you need them — building up to the narrator's lover. An album-closing reprise of this same song, with some help from Jon Randall and Tammy Rogers, suffers only slightly from a lack of drums and a slightly rushed phrasing on the verses. "Forgiveness" carries a similar message, as this song, riding on a crunchy mid-tempo guitar riff based on the clever lyric "Sometimes the toughest thing you can give yourself, forgiveness."

Several of the songs are guaranteed to build a lump in the listener's throat, including "I Know You Can Hear Me," which finds the narrator hiding from his father to avoid punishment, only to turn the tables at the end when the father dies and the son tells his father "I know you can hear me" as well. "Angel Flight" is especially moving in its story about a pilot who has to fly his own brother, who was killed in battle, back home for burial. "I Made Peace with God" finds the narrator reassuring himself that God is there, even in a situation as dire as a wounded son. His voice nearly cracks at the end, giving the feeling that he's about to break into tears of joy. Indeed, these songs seem made to stir the emotions naturally, instead of pushing all the right buttons just to invoke a knee-jerk response from the listener.

The Jack Ingram co-write "Trouble Tonight" departs from the mostly spiritual theme with its suggestive hook "Let's you and me get in trouble tonight," but it's hard not to like, what with its snazzy, organ-heavy groove. This song makes a seamless transition into "Shed a Little Light," a loose, funky gospel number which sounds like it was recorded live in a revival tent on a day when the Spirit was really a-movin'.

To say that the album is lacking in twang would be a most frivolous complaint; indeed, there isn't very much that could be called traditional or mainstream country, but the sound is very raw and bracing, with the guitars turned up nice and loud, the drums and bass thumping strongly behind it, and various other ornamentations that all complement wonderfully. A couple tracks slow the tempo and turn down the amps (such as the slower "If You Want to Be Loved" and "Suitcase" near the end), but even these soft songs are bursting with energy and emotion. Written entirely with the sharp observation of skilled, mature songwriters, the album contains nothing but top-notch material. It may never get airplay on the radio, but Foster doesn't seem to be aiming for radio; rather, he seems to be aiming for making a work of art. While other country singers are all gathered at the megachurch, Radney seems far more suited for the revival tent down the road, where his smaller but loyal following can gather and celebrate along with him in the intimate setting.

You can support Radney Foster by purchasing this album at iTunes icon| Amazon.