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Tracklist :
Hum Menina
Sparks Fly
Guardian Angel
Old Teardrop
Flask of Wine
Gold Entwine
Dali Rama
Nun of the Above
The Sum of Us All

Credits :
All songs composed, arranged and performed by Josephine Foster (keyboard and guitar)

Recorded and mixed by Cooper Crain (2021)

Masterd by Rashad Becker

2022 Fire Records (CD/LP)

Unsaddled from the song of the open road, in the isolation of the first Covid-winter deep in Northern Colorado, Josephine Foster’s songbook evolves, and her album Godmother is disclosed: a circle held within the void; a gift that gathers what belongs to the giving.

In this, her 19th album, Foster’s capstone finds orbit around a new celestial body: a giant Technics thrift store keyboard.  This embrace of electronics uncovers new horizons within Foster’s repertoire.  Imagine Conrad Schnitzler crossing paths with Cateono Veloso on the way to an Almodóvar black sand beach party; now split the vocal-atom between Karen Dalton and a Bobbie Gentry come out of long hiding, only to add a polyglot, secret grammar of the lung, unafraid to drop into Alice Coltrane style mantras, mid-song.

Cooper Crain (Cave / Bitchin’ Bajas) recorded and mixed the album, subtly bringing into focus the ellipse of JF’s marbled brow and rippling wave.  The resulting sunkissed degrees of permanence are simultaneously unlike any previous JF album, while still immediately of a whole within her extant body of work.

-Kristafer Abplanalp

When Josephine Foster released Spellbinder/Experiment on Cafe Oto’s Takuroku label last year, it came with the shock of the new – for the meandering, wordless textures of “Spellbinder”, but mainly for the aptly titled “Experiment”.  This electronic piece was a bold departure from an artist otherwise known for her timeless folk music.  A thrilling release in its own right, it was also exciting to consider it as a rough cut of things to come, and to wonder how Foster might marry this new approach to her well-established songcraft.  Just nine months later, she delivers the answer with Godmother, an expansive record that thoughtfully integrates electronic elements.  It almost feels transmitted from a parallel past – a form of retrofuturism where science fiction meets folk.  

The most straightforward way that Foster incorporates electronics is as a backdrop to her guitar and vocal arrangements.  Almost every track is complemented by a swirling synthesizer, which first buzzes into life halfway through the tentative vocal/guitar of ‘Hum Menina”.  On “Sparks Fly”, it’s as though Foster is playing in front of a floor to ceiling window, and we’re looking on to the celestial view just behind her.  These omnipresent washes of synths are accompanied by electronic compositional elements:  synthesized bass and squawking synth lines that step out of the background to join the fray on “Gold Entwine”.  

A subtler way in which Godmother is influenced by the blueprint of Spellbinder/Experiment is in its textural interplay, which feels at one with the ghostly vocal interaction of “Spellbinder”.  The connection between Foster’s voice and her instrumentation – most notably her guitar – has always felt conversational, but it is now more akin to a supernatural chorus.  Each element takes turns to lead and follow, to react and counteract.  By “Dali Rama” and closing track “The Sum of Us All” they act as arms of the same body.  In these enigmatic relationships, and in its unusual futurist folk aesthetic, Godmother is akin to a Tarkovsky film, and is a thrilling polished return on Foster’s earlier Experimental promise.

Claire Biddles

De regreso a casa, a las montañas de Colorado, tras un dilatado periplo internacional que recaló un tiempo en la provincia de Cádiz y durante el cual subrayó su interés por redimensionar el folclore popular desde un iconoclasta prisma, Josephine Foster entregó hace un par de temporadas un “No Harm Done” (2020) que supo a punto y aparte en su diario de insólita arqueóloga. A continuación, consciente de los estragos del inmovilismo, la publicación digital de las dos piezas de “Spellbinder / Experiment” (2021) para las series del sello Café OTO conectó su expresionista, por momentos naíf, perfil con un contexto electrónico hasta entonces inexplorado en una obra que se había caracterizado por su espontánea vocación acústica.

El resuelto giro, que algunas voces han ubicado a medio camino entre el dream pop y un futurista psych-folk, optimiza ahora sus prestaciones en las nueve piezas que ofrece este “Godmother”, gracias a una mayor capacidad para concretar su poético ideario. Compuesto, arreglado, interpretado y hasta ilustrado en su portada por la propia Foster, el disco consolida su relación con sintetizadores y cajas de ritmo, sin perder ni un ápice de su atributo artesanal ni de un mensaje que combina sin prejuicios el impulso telúrico u onírico con una astral cosmovisión. Todo ello abrigado por ese místico lirismo convertido en su seña de identidad y que se sintetiza en títulos como “Guardian Angel” “The Sum Of Us All”.

Pese a las novedades, sus hipnóticas voces y melodías siguen marcando la pauta a través de un encantador ejercicio de doblaje que las armoniza para realzar estas renovadas texturas mientras aportan calado a textos que evocan su pasada residencia en España. Y ahí están canciones como “Nun Of The Above”, con vídeo disponible firmado por Nick Woods y edición de Zack Trolier, donde recapacita acerca de su experiencia como profesora de música de unas monjas, o ‘Dali Rama’ –“Salvador was a man, he taught: amor agitat molem”–, en un privativo guiño al artista de Figueres, para certificarlo. También para terminar de instalar a este “Godmother” en la compartida cúspide de su seductora trayectoria.

Salvador Catalán