What happens when a relationship starts out good and then turns sour? That seems to be the question at the center of Ruthie Foster’s new album, Healing Time (out this Friday), although one would be forgiven for receiving it as an antidote to the last few years in American life.
“Hold it together,” she sings in the title track. “It won’t last forever.” This mantra can apply to both themes, and no doubt will be welcome salve as folks crank it up for Foster’s jubilant refrain: “It’s healing time, healing time.”
Foster brings the healing time, indeed. She’s not playing with the idea of optimism, though. Healing is hard-fought and occasionally painful, but there’s gratitude on the other side. For Foster, that gratitude is toward love (“For You”), catharsis (“Feels Like Freedom”), and God (“I Was Called”).
She gets to this healing through plenty of darkness, though. “What Kind of Fool” is a self-takedown, despite its broader perspective. “Lie Your Way to the Truth,” meanwhile, turns the blame on someone else. (“The bottom fell out of your conscience.”)
The arrangements are thick and supportive throughout the disc, tastefully walking the line between pop, folk, and the blues. We hear an occasional laidback Rhodes organ, occasional choral backing vocals, a well-placed harmonica solo now and then. But all of this is in support of Foster’s empowered and empowering vocals.
There is no feeling she cannot encapsulate with her instrument, but she seems especially poised to capture the healing she’s reaching for on this disc.
On the final track, “4 a.m.,” she gets to some kind of roadmap for moving on. Alone in a bed, unable to sleep, she grabs a hold of her guitar and sings against the darkness. “It’s 4 a.m. and I’m playing away the night,” she sings. In the end, it’s music that heals.
Healing Time is available HERE.