Like 2014's Promise of a Brand New Day before it, the title of Ruthie Foster's 2017 album Joy Comes Back promises something optimistic. Joy Comes Back does just that but from an entirely different angle. Between the two records, Foster separated from a long-term partner, and she coped by settling down in her hometown of Austin, Texas, recording the new album with her friend, producer Daniel Barrett. A crew of sympathetic musicians -- including guitarist Derek Trucks, drummer Joe Vitale, and Warren Hood, among several others -- swung by the studios and helped Foster record nine covers and an original. Foster casts her net wide, dredging up classic blues from Mississippi John Hurt ("Richland Woman Blues"), contemporary country from Chris Stapleton ("What Are You Listening To?), and classic heavy metal from Black Sabbath ("War Pigs"), but what unites the album is the warm, supple energy of the band and Foster's aching ease. She may have been through the ringer recently, but she's choosing to be positive -- or, as she sings on Shawnee Kilgore's "Abraham," "When I do good/I feel good" -- and that gives Joy Comes Back a relaxed richness that's quite restorative.
Joy Comes Back Review
by Stephen Thomas Erlewine