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Josephine Foster & The Supposed - All The Leaves Are Gone

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Artist: Josephine Foster & The Supposed

Album: All The Leaves Are Gone

Label: Locust

Review date: Dec. 2, 2004

As rock music – wounded, but certainly not dead – limps along in its constant quest for new material to mine, no era is turned to as frequently or stared at as wonder-eyed as the 1960s. The decade had hardly come down from its collective trip before musicians, young and old, were parading wildly dressed skeletons from their closets, looking for inspiration. The ’60s was the decade of rock’s adolescence, and it can be argued that young music grew more during those 10 years than it has in the 30 since.

Currently, what with the way-over-hyped “New Folk” explosion, allegiance to the Psychedelic Decade is getting pledged anew by a fresh group of bands and fans. Of all the artists pining the period for ideas, few succeed in making records that are so out-of-time that they actually sound authentic. However, All The Leaves Are Gone, the debut from Josephine Foster & the Supposed, is one such disc, an album that could have been plucked from a pile of dusty LPs found in a Haight-Asbury basement.

Released on Chicago’s Locust Music, the 47-minute collection is a tangle of swooning vocals, tickly electric guitars and an omnipresent, incense-laced haze. While last spring’s Born Heller disc found Foster and bassist Jason Ajemian crafting dark parlor-folk, here Foster lets the rock rip. Drummer Rusty Peterson and guitarist/bassist/vocalist Brian Goodman back her, weaving trippy textures around her finger picked six-string and velvet-throated vocals.

Foster’s voice has always been her most identifiable – and impressive – feature, and the opera school dropout is in fine form here. While initially, the sheer strength and classically trained sheen of her voice can be overwhelming – there’s a reason dudes like Dylan are among rock’s greatest vocalists – her syrupy swoons offer the perfect counterpoint to the ragged backing tracks.

On opener “Well-Heeled Man,” Goodman wraps serpentine coils of electric guitar around Peterson’s dancing snare rolls and shivering tambourine rattles. The catchy, country-rock of the title track sounds like late-’60s Byrds fronted by a less drug-dazed Grace Slick. Elsewhere, Foster and friends swing from moody, forest-folk to rambunctious art-rock squall, while never obscuring the simple majesty of the songs themselves.

What makes or breaks a rock record is not when it was made, or when it sounds like it was made, but whether the songs and instrumentation bind together to create something that sounds vital. All The Leaves Are Gone offers a fine time-traveling display of retro-rock. More importantly, it shows a young batch of musicians comfortably and commandingly making a musical statement that demands attention.

By Ethan Covey

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