Album Reviews

Jeffrey Foucault

Salt As Wolves

Artist:     Jeffrey Foucault

Album:     Salt As Wolves

Label:     Blueblade

Release Date:     10/16/2015


There’s a mesmerizing, kind of dusky, stark, but natural and engaging sound when Jeffrey Foucault and guitarist Bo Ramsey get together. The two Midwesterners first plied this bluesy dual guitar sound on Foucault’s 2006 Ghost Repeater. Aside from the title track of that album, this one has more robust songs in total– Foucault’s vocals are stronger, and the album has a looser feel to it, fitting for the title, which is a phrase from Othello describing boldness. Foucault and Ramsey use space very well, letting some notes ring while always playing compatibly. Recorded live to tape in Minnesota, the rural feel comes through directly as if you can close your eyes and see swirls of dust and hear the occasional gusts of prairie wind.

In addition to Ramsey, Foucault has assembled a group of players that he has been playing with over the last several years. Drummer Billy Conway and bassist Jeremy Moses Curtis play in Foucault’s band Cold Satellite, and vocalist Caitlin Canty has a wonderful 2015 release, Reckless Skyline, that Foucault played on and produced. Their tight knit chemistry evident as they frame Foucault beautifully.

This is Foucault’s fifth solo release, and each time out he reveals literate songs and an ability to produce raw power in a stripped-down way. Songs like “Left This Town” reflect his mastery of basic rock ‘n’ roll. As he describes it, “(It’s) one of the first songs I wrote for Wolves record… If Salt As Wolves is a reckoning – with the past, with the things I was raised on, ghosts and lovers, leaving town and becoming a stranger – “Left This Town” is where the yelling happens… We got this song in two takes, and it’s just TOUGH; No solo, no halftime bridge, no one gets fancy. The band just lays it down.” The lower tempo tracks might remind you of vintage country blues with hypnotic qualities of John Lee Hooker, or in more contemporary terms, Otis Taylor. And the late Jessie Mae Hemphill’s spirt is present on two selections. This mix of blues and ballads together make this Foucault’s best album, of which these songs especially stand out: “Slow Talker,” “I Love You (And You Are a Fool),” “Oh Mama” and “Rico.” As in the title of the last track, “Take Your Time” – do that with this album. As you dig deeper, you’ll appreciate Foucault’s immense talents.

– Jim Hynes

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