Monday, December 31, 2018

Reed Foehl: “Lucky Enough” (2019) CD Review

Joining Reed Foehl on his new album, Lucky Enough, is Band Of Heathens, and it was this group’s participation that first sparked my interest in this release. But Reed Foehl’s voice and his songwriting are what made me completely love this disc. This album, his fifth solo effort, contains all original material. I fell for this album just a few moments into its first track, “Stealing Starlight.” There is something so sad and yet oddly comforting in Reed Foehl’s vocal delivery that worked on me immediately and pulled me in, so that I wanted to pay closer attention to every word, to see what this voice had to tell me. “It leads you out into the deep dark sea/Where everything is out of reach/Yes, everything is out of reach/Someday you may hold it in your hand/Because you can.” Ah, yes. An absolutely wonderful opening track.

“Stealing Starlight” is followed by “American Miles.” There is something incredibly pretty about this folk song. It has an uplifting sound that I just want to wrap myself in, right from its start with that rhythm on acoustic guitar and those beautiful backing vocals. Certain lines and phrases stand out for me, such as “Haunted by the skyline/Blinded by the sunshine.” I also really like the work on percussion. This track was released in advance of the album. Then “If It Rains” has something of a cheerful vibe once it kicks in, especially because of that drum beat and the way the chorus is delivered. This song also provides the album with its title in the line “We are heartbroken but lucky enough.”

There is a delicious slow country vibe on “Long Time To Make Old Friends,” and this song actually has the feeling of being with old friends, with that relaxed, loose, sweet, honest sound. And I love that work on keys. “It’s a hand-me-down/It’s been all around/Feels good on my skin/When that cotton wears thin/It takes a long time to make old friends.” That’s followed by “Carousel Horses,” which has a wonderfully sad and intimate sound as it opens with just piano and vocals. “There’ll be girls for the flowers that bloom on the hill.” It then kicks in, becoming a gorgeous and moving tune, one of my favorites of this excellent album. I think this track has the best vocal performance of the disc. Check out these lyrics: “On the carnival ride/Watch the moon pull the tide/Fall and rise with the sun/And fill up the can/For the traveling band/It’s your turn to sing me a song.” And I love the sweet futility and ease of “Charting the courses/On carousel horses.” There is more great vocal work on “He’s On An Island,” a song with a strong country vibe, with some nice stuff on pedal steel. “And all his heroes belong/In a Townes Van Zandt song/Finding love in the sorrow and the pain.”

Reed Foehl’s voice is friendly and comforting, particularly in a song like “Running Out Of You.”  I’m running from the dreams we made/Running from this day to day/Running from running into you/Running out of words to say/Running out of games to play/Running out of nothing left to do/Running out of you.” Toward the end there is some good work on harmonica. That’s followed by “Wish I Knew.” There is more of a playful and catchy pop vibe driving this country number. I seriously dig that bass line. Yeah, you might find yourself moving to this one. Plus, it has some nice work on keys. And of course there are some excellent lyrics. “Like where you go when you go from here/On the day we just disappear/From the earth into the atmosphere/Only wish, I wish I knew.” Then “Hello My Dear” is a quieter, more intimate folk song. “Love is a letter we write along the way.” There is wisdom and experience and hope in this voice. Yes, this entire album is really effective. It concludes with “Color Me In,” another beautiful and moving tune. “Snow on the sidewalks and dust on the blinds/Just waiting it out, this old wintertime/Well, honey come closer/It’s going to pass like some dream.”

CD Track List
  1. Stealing Starlight
  2. American Miles
  3. If It Rains
  4. Long Time To Make Old Friends
  5. Carousel Horses
  6. He’s On An Island
  7. Running Out Of You
  8. Wish I Knew
  9. Hello My Dear
  10. Color Me In
The musicians on this album are Reed Foehl on vocals and acoustic guitar, Gordy Quist on guitar and vocals, Ed Jurdi on guitar and vocals, Richard Millsap on drums and electric guitar, Trevor Nealon on keys, Jesse Wilson on bass and guitar, and Geoff Queen on pedal steel.

Lucky Enough is scheduled to be released on February 1, 2019 on Green Mountain Records.

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