The Truth According to Ruthie Foster
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It took a few tries, but Ruthie Foster’s 2007 The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster was a stone- soul triumph for the Austin singer, with an unprecedented laser focus on her strengths. To a large degree, The Truth According to Ruthie Foster (Blue Corn) follows suit. Working at Memphis’s famed Ardent Studios with some top-notch session players (Robben Ford, Jim Dickinson), Foster ditches the cheesy keyboard effects and homegrown feel for a more pristine sound. At times, like with gritty soul/blues grinds “Nickel and a Nail” and “Dues Paid in Full,” the album is curiously indistinguishable from its seventies-steeped predecessor. But stylistically it is much broader, with mixed results: There’s the cover of Patty Griffin’s “When It Don’t Come Easy” (nice but not special), E. Bibb’s “Love in the Middle” (eh), and Foster’s own “Joy on the Other Side” (moving) and “Tears of Pain” (overwrought). This is a minor complaint; Foster is a gifted singer who understandably likes showcasing a variety of styles. Still, when a deep groove like “Truth!” kicks in, you can’t help but think “Damn, why couldn’t there be a whole album of this?”