I love Ruthie Foster’s voice. I could listen to her sing just about anything. Her new CD, Promise Of A Brand New Day, features a mix of original material and covers. While her previous album, 2012’s Let It Burn, featured some stunning covers (I still can’t get over that sexy version of “If I Had A Hammer”), for me this new one is really about the original material. The songs she wrote are, in general, the strongest tracks of the album.
“Singing The Blues”
Ruthie Foster kicks off her new CD with “Singing The Blues,” a mix of blues and pop, with a very positive feel and groove. The opening lines are: “Trying to find a new home/Trying to write a new song/Trying to find a rhythm.” This song is about the blues, about singing them for a crowd, then singing them to yourself alone afterwards, and maybe feeling them in a more intense and personal way then. “Well, you know I’m just passing on/Singing the same old songs/Sometimes it feels so right and I don’t feel all alone/But when the music fades and the crowd drives away/I’m staring at the mirror/Yeah, I’m still singing the blues.” The lyrics also mention Bobby Blue Bland. “Singing The Blues” was written by Ruthie Foster.
Doyle Bramhall II
I love the great bluesy soul opening to “Let Me Know,” with some delicious vocal work. It is so good. The song then kicks in with a solid blues-rock groove. Ruthie Foster is joined on this track by Doyle Bramhall II, who provides some excellent work on guitar. (He has played with such folks as Eric Clapton, Elton John and Sheryl Crow.) Ruthie sings, “I’ve gotta know if you’re gonna let me go.” Not an unreasonable demand. And any demands this woman makes should be seen to straight away. “Let Me Know” was written by Ruthie Foster.
“My Kinda Lover”
There is a nice, loose, kind of happy feel to “My Kinda Lover.” You can almost hear the smiles on the musicians’ faces in their playing. It has a sort of classic R&B groove. This one was also written by Ruthie Foster. Here is a taste of the lyrics: “You want to be my kinda lover, yeah/And never ever have to roam/Never more will there be fussing and fighting/Never more will you feel all alone/If you were mine, all mine, all mine.”
Ruthie Foster does an excellent cover of “The Ghetto,” a song written by Bettye Crutcher, Homer Banks and Bonnie Bramlett, and recorded by The Staples Singers. Ruthie Foster’s rendition has a gorgeous gospel sound, particularly in the vocals. This is an impressive performance, full of passion.
“Learning To Fly”
“Learning To Fly” is one of my favorite tracks. Ruthie Foster’s vocals and Jebin Bruni’s work on piano are such a moving combination. There is something glorious and gorgeous and yet also grounded in the sound. The lyrics include uplifting lines like, “And when you soar, love means so much more/And in time you’ll be fine” and “There’s a song in your ear you can’t stop singing.” “Learning To Fly” was written by Ruthie Foster.
There are more great gospel vibes in the title track, “Brand New Day,” with lyrics delivered a cappella (well, to the accompaniment of a tambourine). This wonderful track was written by Ruthie Foster.
“Complicated Love,” also written by Ruthie Foster, is more in the folk realm. It has a sadly sweet sound that gets right to me. And I really love the lyrics to this one: “I wish I knew what to do/How to find the right words to take the blame off my heart/I don’t know where to start/You’ve got a double-edged sword on your tongue/I can’t win, I can’t run, I can’t drop down my guard/Do I wait/Do I say I’ve had enough.”
Promise Of A Brand New Day ends with “New,” a song written by Toshi Reagon, who also performs on this track, providing vocals. This is a beautiful, mellow song, and its title then makes me think back to the first lines of the album’s opening track, as well as to the title track.
CD Track List
- Singing The Blues
- Let Me Know
- My Kinda Lover
- The Ghetto
- Second Coming
- It Might Not Be Right
- Learning To Fly
- Brand New Day
- Complicated Love
The musicians featured on this album are Ruthie Foster on vocals, Meshell Ndegeocello on bass, Chris Bruce on guitar, Ivan Edwards on drums, Jebin Bruni on keys, and Nayanna Holley on backing vocals. Meshell Ndegeocello produced this album.
Promise Of A Brand New Day is scheduled to be released on August 19, 2014 through Blue Corn Music.