Josephine Foster, Spires That in the Sunset Rise, Arlt | Hideout | Folk & Country | Chicago Reader

Josephine Foster, Spires That in the Sunset Rise, Arlt Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Recommended Critics' Picks

When: Sat., May 8, 9 p.m. 2010

Originally from Colorado, formerly a Chicagoan, and now living in Spain, Josephine Foster has changed direction restlessly in her music: she's adapted German lieder, devised a sort of self-styled Appalachian folk in the duo Born Heller, and played scorching psychedelia with the short-lived band the Supposed, among other things. One thing that's been consistent is her singing—both its disciplined precision and its peculiar melodic shapes—and in the past couple of years she seems to have figured out what she wants to do with her extraordinary vocal instrument. On her 2008 album This Coming Gladness (Bo' Weavil) she delivers rangy performances of original pieces that feel sketched more than written; her husband, Spanish guitarist Victor Herrero, plays coloristic, abstract figures instead of his usual flamenco licks, and Scottish drummer Alex Neilson (Trembling Bells) tweaks the pulse with free-jazz openness. Last year's Graphic as a Star (Fire), where Foster sets 26 poems by Emily Dickinson to her own gentle, idiosyncratic tunes, is even better. Accompanying herself with simple acoustic guitar, Dylan-esque harmonica, or nothing at all, she drifts easily between American and British folk styles, creating direct, lucid melodies that make Dickinson's highly compressed and profoundly inward-looking verses feel like they were meant to be sung. —Peter Margasak

Price: $10

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