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In rotation: Ruthie Foster's 'Let It Burn'

January 21, 2012 |  7:34 pm

In rotation: Ruthie Foster's 'Let It Burn.' A series in Sunday Calendar about what Times writers & contributors are listening to right now...

In rotation: Ruthie Foster's 'Let It Burn'

To call Ruthie Foster a blues singer is to miss a big chunk of her allure as a vocal stylist, one who draws from a range of influences on her deep, soulful new album “Let It Burn.” Recording in New Orleans with Grammy-winning producer John Chelew (who used to book McCabe's Guitar Shop), Foster, a Texan by birth, tackles classics, new originals and a few surprises, with simmering takes on the Black Keys' “Everlasting Light,” the Band's “It Makes No Difference” and Adele's “Set Fire to the Rain.” Her rendition of William Bell's perfect lament, “You Don't Miss Your Water,” features Bell, in fine vocal form at 71, dueting with Foster while organist Ike Stubblefield mixes in the riff from Miles Davis' classic “All Blues” and tenor sax player James Rivers punctuates it all with a slithery-smooth run.

The result, which comes out Jan. 31, is a captivating blend of soul, blues, gospel (The Blind Boys of Alabama accompany her on four songs), New Orleans funk, folk rock (David Crosby and John Martyn songs are represented) and R&B, a stew of sounds supported by the crack New Orleans rhythm section of Meters co-founder George Porter Jr. and Crescent City percussionist Russell Batiste. Foster cited Sade as an influence for “Let It Burn,” and you can hear it: This is music that transcends genre. Listen to her transform June Carter and Merle Kilgore's “Ring of Fire” and witness an artist possess a song considered the property of Johnny Cash. She performs such magic throughout “Let It Burn.”

Ruthie Foster
“Let It Burn” 
(Blue Corn Music)


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