Ruthie Foster

'ACL' sides

Phases and Stages

Ruthie Foster

Runaway Soul (Blue Corn) On her third release, Ruthie Foster has, at long last, put all her talents together. The College Station-based singer-songwriter has long been an amazing vocalist, drawing well-earned comparisons to Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha Franklin down through the years. Here, Foster presents the complete package with well-written original songs and some inspired cover material performed in a way that's varied and enthralling. Her music is tough to pin down, as she covers a lot of ground from gospel and blues to folk and pop. With the assistance of master producer Lloyd Maines, Foster mixes and matches each style in her own fashion, with the results adding up to a listening experience that's cleverly refreshing and positively uplifting. The self-composed title track kicks the disc off in a jaunty way, spearheaded by a nifty harmonica riff provided by Gary Primich. She covers Terri Hendrix's "Hole in My Pocket" with a verve and soulfulness that brings the song's yearning nature to a peak. Brownie McGhee's "Walk On" is a prime example of Foster's gospel blues, its shout-along chorus accompanying her never-over-the-top vocal histrionics. By the time she winds down the proceedings with the original spiritual "Joy," the listener's ready to believe just about anything she's selling. Runaway Soul proves Foster a major talent; not only a great singer, but someone with the ability to really move you, and that's truly a rare gift. (Sunday, Sept. 29, 2:30-3:30pm, American Original stage.)

****    

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