Josephine Foster

Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You

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On Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You, Josephine Foster trades the rangy psych-folk of her 2004 album with the Supposed for the lonesome chill of an empty studio. She handles everything on Hazel Eyes, from layering her vibrating saw blade of a voice to accompanying it with kazoo, dulcimer, harp, homemade percussion, and, at the center, her dry and spindly acoustic guitar. Foster's singing often consists of a wordless, moody sigh. But she also fills the corners of her lilting, swaying songs with talk of bones, treasure, and hominy grits. Her antiquated enunciation can be little trying -- she's from Chicago, not Kisimul Castle. But the style works if you let yourself believe that Hazel Eyes is a crazy old 78 you found in an attic. (Its runic, earth mother cover art helps.) Alongside the album's more esoteric material -- including "Pruner's Pair" and the raga-like "Celebrant's Song" -- are pieces with an at least an element of easygoing fun, like the casual, old-timey flair of "Good News," or "Golden Wooden Tone," which with its kazoos, harmonies, and tumbling jacks percussion is downright gleeful. Gleeful like the final song of Puritan girls condemned for witchery, but gleeful nevertheless. For fans of Espers, Joanna Newsom, and Foster's own work in the comparatively less strange Born Heller.

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