Employing a more standard folk style than on his previous release, The Duck Hunter, Bill Foreman's strangely intricate lyricism remains completely intact. While the overriding theme of Building St. Petersburg is not explicit, themes of small town folks and simple ways seem to persist in the homespun narratives and love songs. Almost recalling the teary-eyed homeyness of Mississippi John Hurt, the finger-picked country-blues of the title track, with Celtic flavor added by unexpected penny whistle, tells the tale of a lonely peasant worker sent to the swamplands that would become St. Petersburg, Russia. Using soft drums, piano, guitar and mandolin, tracks like "San Diego" fit perfectly beside the bluesy R&B grooves in "The Canadian Vacation" and the quietly picked electric guitar in "The Good Life," keeping a fresh pace throughout the album's nine tracks. The intensely surreal narrative in "The Stroke Victim" finds Foreman at his most unflinchingly esoteric, leaving listeners feeling as if they've just watched a short film. Like the very best singer/songwriters, he crafts songs that engage the mind and stir the soul. As such, it would be futile, and moreover misleading, to try to match these abstract word paintings to any particular genre.
AllMusic Review by Matt Fink