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CD REVIEW: Kiyoshi Foster - Songs From the Sidewalk Saloon
By Chip Withrow - 03/06/2007 - 12:32 AM EST

Artist: Kiyoshi Foster
Album: Songs From the Sidewalk Saloon
CD Review: Kiyoshi Foster’s eccentrically played and sung Songs from the Sidewalk Saloon is a giddy delight to listen to. Maybe it's just because of all the peculiar ways music has affected me over the years, but this is like what I hear in a dreamy yet hyper-aware trance - good ole groove music with nifty flourishes of weirdness.

Foster plays most of the music himself, and his strength seems to be as a player of guitar and other stringed things. But he also adds organ, unusual percussion, and some instruments I've never heard of.

The first cut, "Everything I Am" bounds right at you like a mad scientist entering the lab. It’s ska-ish with increasingly wild vocals and a shredded guitar solo. Then comes the beautifully soulful, Van Morrison-esque “Angel on the Farm.” Later on, “Moon, Stars and River” has that Morrison country/soul feel, with some aching slide guitar.

“All the Time” has that off-kilter ska vibe again, and some clever lyrics; Foster's background vocals are wild and fun, too. “Finally Feel Free” has a Steve Miller “Joker” lope to it, and some loopy sitar. (There’s also a smoky piano-only version of “All the Time” at the end of the album.)

“The Big Ballroom” is a heck of a party tune. Plucked banjo, trippy ‘60s organ, sonic peals of guitar, sing-along potential – but it ends way, way too soon. Then comes the haunting, sensually funky “Elephant in Clouds,” which features Foster’s best vocal on the CD and a piercing acoustic guitar solo (great stripped down version as a bonus track, too).

“Jasmine” soars – swirling guitar, jubilant vocals, another sing-along chorus. It’s straightforward and poppy compared to what follows: the percussive, Eastern drone of “Life Is Breathing.”

My wife and I had a few beers one afternoon, cleaned the house, and listened to this album; she called it “sexy.” It’s also pretty groovy late at night, with a few glasses of wine and some headphones to catch all the weird and wonderful noises swirling around.

www.geofffoster.com




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