Josephine Foster | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Josephine Foster 

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Singer Josephine Foster has sought out a wide range of musical settings over the last two years, from the polished lyricism of the Children's Hour to the raw austerity of Born Heller; most recently she's formed her own backing group, a full-on rock band called the Supposed, which made its debut on this summer's All the Leaves Are Gone (Locust). Tying all this work together, though, is Foster's arresting voice--a piercing, deeply mannered warble, indebted equally to Joan Baez and British folk legend Shirley Collins, that she controls with a precision honed by opera training. The new band's lead guitarist, Brian Goodman, has a tendency to overplay, cramming way too many notes into songs that demand subtlety; his slide work can sound gimmicky, and on occasion he's painfully out of tune. But the new album is Foster's strongest outing anyway, thanks to the surprisingly dynamic material. This band showcases her melodic gifts in a way the harrowingly moody Born Heller can't, and by her previous standards the songs here are downright extroverted; some of them have been lodged in my head for weeks. Tonight Foster will play solo. Opening are Castanets, Lichens, and young Swedish songwriter Jens Lekman, whose recent "When I Said I Wanted to Be Your Dog" (Secretly Canadian) shows some creative promise but is saddled with massive debt to folks like Jonathan Richman, Stephin Merritt, Scott Walker, and Bill Callahan. Monday 11/22, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499. Free.


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