Radney Foster

Texas Platters

Phases and Stages

Radney Foster

Another Way to Go (Dualtone)

Radney Foster is a born songwriter, able to fill albums with hit-worthy material, and create chart topper after chart topper since his days as one-half of Foster & Lloyd. It has been four years since the Del Rio native released a studio album, and for his latest venture, Another Way to Go, he's back in top form with 13 songs of heartache, heartbreak, and heart's hope. The auspiciously titled "A Real Fine Place to Start" sets the tone, but it's difficult to ignore the emotional impact of the second track, "Everyday Angel." "Angel" is also the first single from the album, a Springsteen-like paean to the common man and woman featuring Kim Richey on backing vocals, and with its timely shout-out to 9/11, guaranteed play this month. Foster's ease in his craft -- blue-collar smarts honed by a down-home sensibility -- is beautifully displayed by the hopeful sentiments in ballads like "Again" and the soulful "I Got What You Need," written with Hootie & the Blowfish drummer Soni Sonefeld. Like labelmate Jim Lauderdale, Foster has a voice well-suited to the hat-free, Americana side of country. It twangs without grating, snaps and crackles with sincerity and the occasional dose of good humor, and blends lovingly with Chely Wright on "Scary Old World," co-written by the late Harlan Howard. Foster doesn't make half-assed albums, nor does he skimp on production, making more with less. That's something Nashville could use a little more of, and Radney Foster is just the one to give it to 'em.

***.5

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