Behind every great artist are great songs and Radney Foster has never had trouble writing great songs. Through the years he has had his songs sung by Keith Urban, Pat Green, Hootie & the Blowfish, Brooks and Dunn, The Dixie Chicks, Kenny Chesney and most recently, Sara Evans. Radney is one of the Godfathers of the Texas Music Movement, but it is writing and recording his own songs where Foster finds himself most at home and that's where we catch up with him on This World We Live In, the follow-up to 2002's Another Way To Go.
As the centerpiece and thematic heart of Radney Foster's mix of rock and reflection, "Half of My Mistakes" sounds like an instant classic, a celebration of how the missteps can lead you places you wouldn't have gone otherwise and make you who you are. Similarly, the closing "Never Gonna Fly" reinforces the sense that you can't reap rewards without taking some risks, that you have to stumble in order to soar. With a backing band including guitarist Waddy Wachtel and drummer Charley Drayton (who worked together on Keith Richards's solo albums), ace session bassist Bob Glaub, and Wallflowers keyboardist Rami Jaffe, Foster takes some chances here that don't always pay dividends. He pushes the cliché of the intoxicating kiss to the extreme on the Stones-ish opener, "Drunk on Love," while "The Kindness of Strangers" revisits the hooker with a heart of gold in less-than-convincing fashion. Dreamier fare such as "I Won't Lie to You" and "Fools That Dream" (with gorgeous vocal counterpoint from Kim Richey) shows the benefit of a lighter touch, and "Big Idea" just lets 'er rip. --Don McLeese