Het aankomende album Mileage van Ruthie Foster, dat op 21 augustus 2024 wordt uitgebracht door Sun Records, markeert een mijlpaal als haar tiende studioalbum. In samenwerking met producer Tyler Bryant en zijn vrouw Rebecca Lovell van Larkin Poe, creëert Foster een diep persoonlijk en soulvol album. Het album vertelt haar reis van zingen in kerken in het landelijke Texas tot meerdere Grammy-nominaties, verweven met verhalen van professionele triomfen en persoonlijke verliezen. Hoogtepunten zijn onder andere de soulvolle single “Rainbow”, het gospelgetinte “Good For My Soul” en het reflectieve titelnummer dat voortkwam uit oprechte gesprekken. Mileage is een bewijs van Fosters blijvende kunstenaarschap en rijke muzikale erfgoed.

Albumcover photo: Ruthie Foster - Mileage

Ruthie Foster

Label: Sun Records
Release date: 21 August 2024

As the milestone tenth studio album from folk-blues luminary Ruthie Foster, Mileage finds the singer-songwriter reflecting on a life full of professional triumphs, personal loss, and a musical journey that took a self-described “little Black girl with a guitar” from singing at churches in rural Texas to chalking up multiple Grammy nominations and collaborating with fellow greats such as Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks.

Working alongside acclaimed producer Tyler Bryant (of Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown fame), Foster unveils a collection of songs that was born from heartfelt conversations about her story. When the two native Texans first sat down (joined by Rebecca Lovell, Bryant’s wife and one-half of the duo Larkin Poe) to work on a song together, they were still warming up to each other as songwriters and feeling out the possibility of a full project. As the ideas, lyrics, and melodies began to flow, the album that emerged is one that reverberates with a beautiful creative synergy.

“One of the things I loved most about working with Ruthie was hearing her story,” said Bryant. “Every writing session started with a conversation and my wife Rebecca and I were both continuously inspired by Ruthie’s way of speaking her unique truth in song. I learned quickly to just have the microphones on, ‘cause when Ruthie starts singing, it’s gonna be a moment worth capturing.”

Even when she wasn’t singing, it was often the way Ruthie would speak her truth in conversation that became the inspiration for a song. The trio were kicking around the idea of a traveling song and the topic of Ruthie’s age came up. “I told them, ‘Honey, I got mileage!’ and Tyler’s ears perked up,” Ruthie laughs. “He said, ‘That’s a song!’” And thus the wide-open road, wide-open heart title track was born.

The album’s soulful first single, “Rainbow,” is a hopeful message of simply letting love be love. “People ask me what is love?” sings Foster. “I just point to you. People get so hung up; I just run to you.” It’s a powerful message from a queer Black female artist speaking to her journey through love and life.

Ruthie Foster - Rainbow (Lyric Video)

The opening notes and backing choir (the vocals all performed by Foster) of the inspiring “Good For My Soul” hearken to the singer’s gospel roots. It was a song that Bryant had been working on for his band, but it wasn’t the right fit. When he played it for Foster, it was immediately clear that it was her song. (As a thank you, she offered up her voice for “Happy Gets Made” on Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown’s Electrified album.)

Some songs, like “Heartshine,” emerged around a word or a phrase that stood out during the writing sessions. One of the first songs the trio put together, the track made the group realize they were all working towards the same goal: create something that gives you goosebumps when you hear it. “That’s when we really settled into how we were going to write together,” said Foster. “Taking the conversation, turning it into poetry, and just letting me run with it, melodically.”

“Slow Down” might be an unusual title for a song with such an incredibly upbeat tempo, but illustrates its lesson by showing Foster’s vocal mastery at its best — calm, commanding, and soothing the audience in the midst of the hustle-bustle. “That one was fun to sing!” remembers Foster. “It was like riding a bronco, trying to sing it.”

“I’d started on the idea of this track,” said Bryant of “Six Mile Water.” “Then Ruthie just started talking about the place she was from…” With its Hammond B3 organ and horn section, the resulting song is a resonant journey back to rural Texas — with memories of fishing, picking muscadines, and Foster musing on the meaning of “learning to be my mother’s daughter again.”

Foster’s laid-back take on “That’s Alright” is a salute to the legendary Sun Records, the label on which Mileage is released. But while Elvis put the song on the mainstream map, Foster wishes to pay homage to Arthur Crudup, the Black blues artist who wrote and first recorded it in 1946.

A holy marriage of gospel and blues, “Done” brings together Foster with Lovell in what was intended as an end-of-day session to quickly make note of a song idea before they forgot it. “I’m just gonna get in where I fit in,” Ruthie had declared in an earlier discussion about the group writing together. Her play on words, along with her memories of her grandmother begging her to hush, inspired the lyrics to the song. Singing into a single mic, the pair played off of each other in what ended up being a single-take recording session, with Megan Lovell coming in afterwards to add the lap steel guitar that would complete the track.

The playful, get-you-through-the-hard-times vibe of “Take It Easy” came together during the first writing session of what transformed into the Mileage album. “When Ruthie first came to Nashville, we said ‘Let’s try writing a song and see if collaborating is something we want to do,’” Bryant says. “We wrote this and ‘Heartshine’ on the first day. It really worked; it all just poured right out.”

A gentle, bittersweet closing track featuring Foster behind the keys of the Wurlitzer, “See You When I See You” speaks to love, friendship, and to parting ways — whether for a day or forever. On this song, as with the entire album, “Ruthie’s voice was the star of the show,” said Bryant. “I really tried to stay out of the way of that with the production.”

Mileage marks a profound collaboration with Sun Records, intertwining Foster’s narrative with the legendary label’s rich tapestry of musical history and inviting listeners to embark on a soul-stirring voyage through the heartland of American music. Foster’s partnership with Sun signifies a union of past influences and future aspirations, echoing the label’s commitment to fostering unique voices and timeless artistry.

With nods to musical legends and heartfelt tributes to her roots, Mileage is more than just an album—it’s an invitation to take part in a conversation about memories, emotions, and shared humanity. It’s a reminder that every journey, no matter how far, eventually takes us home.

Ruthie Foster – Mileage

1. Mileage
2. Rainbow
3. Good For My Soul
4. Heartshine
5. Slow Down

6. Six Mile Water
7. That’s All Right
8. Done – feat. Larkin Poe
9. Take It Easy
10. See You When I See You (Live)


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