So how is it that Radney Foster has managed to avoid becoming a major star? Since his days in Foster & Lloyd, anyone who has been paying attention knows about Foster's big, strong, expressive voice and his estimable skills as a lyricist, and his sixth studio album, This World We Live In, finds him squarely in contemporary country territory without abandoning his instincts as a rocker, and he makes the mixture work like a charm. Foster kicks off the proceedings with an updated bit of honky tonk raunch, "Drunk on Love," that gives him a chance to show off his pipes (and Waddy Wachtel's guitar), and "Big Idea" and "Prove Me Right" are equally powerful uptempo rockers fortified with a sharp infusion of twang. But while Foster knows how to serve up a good time, he also knows more than a little about the blues, and "The Kindness of Strangers," "New Zip Code," and "Fools That Dream" are tales of heartache and wrong turns that work beautifully with Foster's rich, full-bodied vocals. Foster co-produced the set with Darrell Brown, and they've lined up ten great songs and a handful of top-notch accompanists (including Kim Richey, who sings backup on two cuts), and Niko Bolas' engineering sounds clear and bold without overwhelming the performances. While This World We Live In boasts just enough polish that current country radio could make a place for it if they chose, Foster speaks from the heart and soul on every track here, and his rowdy but passionate music is the sort of thing Music Row's been missing for years. Give This World We Live In a chance, and you'll find Radney Foster has the goods, and in plentiful supply.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming