By: Bill Clifford
Reed Foehl was the vocalist/guitarist for now-defunct national touring powerhouse, Acoustic Junction. That band gigged tirelessly throughout the '90s, earning a devout following. By 2000 and the release their swan song, Strange Days, the numbers had dwindled. Foehl has continued to tour on his own, releasing his debut solo album, Spark, and most recently, the follow-up, Stoned Beautiful (Red Parlor). Those familiar with Acoustic Junction's high-energy acoustic rock may be surprised by Foehl's mellow folk singer fare.
He's always been a strong singer/songwriter but with Stoned Beautiful his delivery is serene, with his vocals – but not necessarily his lyrics - are front and center. The lush title track is one of the most developed cuts here. Atmospheric harmonica, National Steel Guitar and harmonious piano dress up this subtle, simple love song. Backing female vocals surround his eloquently sung lead on this natural for AAA radio across the country. On "Carmalina," Foehl's vocals are touched by studio effects, adding a haunting, elegiac beauty. Further adding to the lament is weeping pedal steel and deep upright bass reverb. The narrator looks on this "Mexican prize, won by many, in the bars late at night" as a "fallen angel."
Swathed in thick swells of organ, National Steel and sultry violin, "Wake Up The Dead" is the most rock-oriented track here. It's about busting out and making "this moment one for the ages" with a hint of New Orleans swagger. Another highlight is the gorgeous ballad "Paper Moon," which finds Foehl flanked by sorrowful flugelhorn on this stunning lullaby.
Whether leading Acoustic Junction or on his own, Foehl is the consummate songwriter, putting characters and their stories first. Though the ambience mellows some on Stoned Beautiful his delivery remains sincere on this stark and eloquent Sunday morning soundtrack.
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