How can you tell that Ruthie Foster’s new CD is a breakthrough work for her? Just consider that the disc is called The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster. No artist as self-effacing and self-aware as Foster would agree to such a boastful title (though the idea apparently came from her record label) unless she believed she had experienced some kind of creative epiphany.
For Foster, that means a change from the sensitive folk-and-blues material she’s become associated with, and making an all-out, old-school soul move. The album is loaded with Hammond B3 organ and Ray Charles-era Wurlitzer, and Foster admits to channeling the legendary voices of Al Green and Sam Cooke at various points.
The Austin-based Foster begins her San Antonio push for Phenomenal with a Thursday, January 11 free performance at the McNay Art Museum’s Leeper Auditorium (6000 N. New Braunfels). Her new album hits stores on February 6 on Blue Corn Music.
ON THE DARK SIDE
Aside from its use of the six-string guitar and adherence to a do-it-yourself work ethic, SA metal band Kalhalla has absolutely nothing in common with Ruthie Foster. But, like Foster, they’re gearing up to plug a new album. The band’s latest release, Darkside of the World, features a black-and-white lunar eclipse image on the cover, and its lead track, “Zero Tolerance, “ is a grinding monster with leader Robert Benson’s characteristic bowels-of-hell bellows.
Benson formed an early incarnation of the band in 1989 at the age of 13, and over the years, he’s become a tireless networker and marketer for his band’s music. Along those lines, he’ll be taking Kalhalla on a 13-city American trek as part of a Monster Jam Monster Truck Tour. The band will also cash in some of its international connections by playing 22 overseas club and in-store dates (including stops in Russia, Japan, and China). Darkside of the World will be available on January 30.