Blue Corn Music
Multiple Grammy nominee Ruthie Foster takes the listener to church on her new LP, Healing Time, her first studio album since 2017. The soulful, liberating album represents a journey of joy, her gospel roots present on all the tracks.
When a Grammy-nominated artist releases a new record, it’s bound to attract attention. Nevertheless, regardless of her previous accolades — and there have been many — Foster’s new album deserves notice. It’s a searing, soaring expression of resolve and resilience in the face of challenging times.
Certain songs bring the problem into focus. For example, the dramatic and dynamic “Lie Your Way to the Truth” is a seeming rebuke to those who claim election fraud and try to manipulate the facts to serve their own interests. However, most of the material takes a decidedly personal perspective, whether it’s the stoic spirituality shared through the riveting testimonial “I Was Called,” the drama and dynamic that surfaces in the explosive album opener “Soul Searching,” the optimistic and uplifting “Paradise” or the unhurried pacing of “Don’t Want to Give Up on You,” a declaration of Foster’s faith and devotion.
Of course, Foster’s never at a loss when expressing her earnest emotion, and at a time when trouble and turbulence dominate the headlines and weigh on the universal psyche, her sentiments provide added impact. When she sings “Love Is the Answer,” she offers a perspective that outshines the lingering feeling of sheer negativity while bringing hope despite happenstance. Likewise, the drive and determination of “Finish Line” suggests that obstacles can be overcome given the desire to do so. Finally, there’s the upward view taken by the soulful serenade “Feels Like Freedom,” which conveys its message by bonding it with brotherhood and a desire to serve a common cause.
Foster knows she doesn’t need a pulpit to offer a sermon. You can do it with roses, with love or, like the singer, with a song. She’s aware of real concerns — children go without clean water, corporate greed stands on the backs of the poor. For Foster, the answer to these problems isn’t simply political or economic. She asks for a bit of faith. “Love Is the Answer,” she tells her listeners. That may not be so different from what the Beatles sang all those years ago. However, this is more conventionally religious and has roots in church hymns and psalms.
Credit is also due Foster’s continuing collaborators — Gary Nicholson, Anders Osborne, Grace Pettis, Glenn Fukunaga, members of Black Pumas, and her own backing band — all of whom serve ably under the able direction of producers Daniel Barrett and Mark Howard.
Nevertheless, given the fact that Foster is responsible for writing most of the material, one can hail Healing Time as a triumph in a career that’s spawned any number of embracing efforts — a clarion call for reckoning and reflection that’s well worth heeding.