Ruthie Foster is on fire.
Foster’s eighth album, “Let It Burn,” was released Tuesday, the same day Foster performed at Los Angeles’ Grammy Museum, kicking off her tour, which makes a stop tonight at the Bing Crosby Theater, 901 W. Sprague Ave.
The new album by the Grammy-nominated Blues powerhouse is sizzling with New Orleans flavor, as she recruited a team of New Orleans artists to play on “Let It Burn,” including the Funky Meters’ Rhythm Section – bassist George Porter Jr., drummer Russell Batiste, and guitarist Dave Easley – featuring renowned saxophonist James Rivers.
The record has a distinct jazz organ texture, thanks to Hammond B3 player Ike Stubblefield.
Add to the mixture four tracks colored by the Blind Boys of Alabama and “Let It Burn” soars with gospel-laced grace.
Foster is not just a blues singer, as she proves on the new record by exploring a wide range of influences including folk, rock and country.
“Let It Burn” finds the Texas singer-songwriter in funk mode while paying tribute to some of her favorite artists in a collection of tasty cover songs. The eclectic studio set contains classics by the likes of Adele; The Black Keys; Los Lobos; Johnny Cash; Crosby, Stills & Nash; The Band; and Robbie Robertson, among others.
With this collection of familiar songs, Foster shows her penchant for interpretation. In some instances – such as “Ring of Fire” and “If I Had A Hammer” – Foster makes unexpected turns in her renderings. But there are a handful of mirrored takes, such as “It Makes No Difference” and “Long Time Gone.”
But it’s Foster’s smoldering voice that defines “Let It Burn,” adding her signature growls and hollers. “Let It Burn” is Foster’s first album where she does not play guitar, giving more focus to the vocal performance.
Often compared to Ella Fitzgerald and Aretha Franklin, Foster has been met with international acclaim by putting her own spin on her meshing of soulful blues style.
From her Texas roots in gospel as a child, Foster went on to study music in college, and then served in the U.S. Navy before wholly committing her being to writing and performing music.
Foster was nominated for Best Contemporary Blues Album for her 2009 record, “The Truth According to Ruthie Foster,” before being named Best Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year at the Blues Music Awards.
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