Josephine Foster

No More Lamps in the Morning

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Sixteen years into her career, indie folk outsider Josephine Foster remains a polarizing figure with a distinctive sound that is as challenging as it is beguiling. Possessed of a warbling, highly affected mezzo-soprano and an oeuvre that tends to skew more toward prewar jazz and Americana or pre-20th century folk than anything overtly pop, her sparsely adorned reinterpretations of several previously released songs won't come as a huge surprise to fans. Played live in the studio with Foster on classical guitar and husband Victor Herrero on the 12-string Portuguese guitar, No More Lamps in the Morning comprises six career-spanning highlights along with one new song set to the James Joyce poem "My Dove, My Beautiful One." With their dark fidelity and overly spacious arrangements, these new meditations feel almost as if they were unearthed from some distant vault of preserved wax cylinders rather than re-recorded. The rich tones of Herrero's nimble accompaniments add welcome bursts of color to tracks like the title cut and to "The Garden of Earthly Delights," one of two songs to feature the album's only other guest performer, cellist Gyða Valtýsdóttir. On "Second Sight," a song that first appeared on 2008's This Coming Gladness, Foster weaves an eerie spell that simply wasn't there on the original version, which relied more on psychedelic electric guitar textures to manufacture its mood and, in comparison, feels far more contemporary than its revision. It creates an odd paradox, giving the impression that these songs were backdated rather than updated, and it's a testament to Foster's craft that she can work so subtly as to nearly paint herself out of the picture.

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