Song Premiere: Jeffrey Foucault, “War on the Radio”
Jeffrey Foucault has done it again, with his forthcoming album, Blood Brothers, due out on June 22nd. As the album’s title might indicate, it’s a rumination on family and roots—home, whatever that could possibly mean.
Foucault, who grew up in Wisconsin, has been an ardent road warrior singer-songwriter for years, and now lives in New England. There’s a certain point in all our lives where “home” means more than one thing: the place we began, the places we’ve stopped off, the place we are now. It’s a shifting concept when one starts to reckon with it, and it starts to truly blare as we watch our children grow. Foucault, now a father with his singer-songwriter wife Kris Delmhorst (who sings backup throughout this disc, and whose voice blends beautifully with Foucault’s) is clearly reckoning with all of this as he lists things that matter in the album’s inaugural track.
“Do dishes with the windows open,” he sings, the first line of “Dishes,” before he moves through other things of utmost importance: “Put a record on,” “Bow your head,” “Take a backroad with nobody on it,” “Step outside.”
There is gospel in his voice, and the wide-open West, and the deep South. His singing conjures a long country road, in a way that so few other singers do these days. Other times, it’s like a single lightbulb swinging from the dark ceiling in some nowhere bar. And yet all the images he conjures with his vocal inflection and the stories his songs tell—all feel like home here.
As the album unfolds, Foucault sings about love and friendship, loneliness and overwhelm, washing dishes and lighting candles, dirt under fingernails and pretty hands. The devil and the dynamite are in the details.
If there are any flaws on the record, it’s that the listener would be best served stopping after every song and listening to it a few more times before continuing. Foucault, the poet, has packed so much into each number, one can’t possibly ingest it all just listening through from beginning to end.
“War on the Radio,” which you can sample here, is a good example, with its electric guitar and pedal steel. Foucault’s charming twang wraps around lyrics that dissect how omnipresent the news is in our world these days. With the media narrative telling us about darkness and division, the song insists that people in the real world continue to be kind and persistent, even as Foucault does his artist duty of trying to make sense of it all.
“Go ahead and take a look around,” he sings, as if pointing the direction. “See the world before it’s gone. You know the sun is going down on everything you’ve ever known.” But instead of letting the song linger in that darkness, the singer begs of his listeners: “Don’t turn away. You can’t turn away.”
That line is a plea to resist ignoring the hard stuff, so maybe we can get to the other side where the light is. But it’s also a recognition of the trainwreck nature of our current events. That bitter pill alone can be unpacked for paragraphs but is best swallowed through the song itself. It’s not a political statement so much as it is a human one: one person wondering, as so many of us are, what’s going on and how we got here. Is this home too? It absolutely is. And in a way we’re all blood brothers.
Pre-order Blood Brothers HERE.