Friday, March 24, 2023

Gideon Foster Showcases His Eclectic Range On Debut Album ‘Prophecy’

Releasing your debut album whilst in your early 50s is a unique move. It’s not often you get people at that age who are willing to commit to such an undertaking; maybe they feel the time has passed or maybe the responsibility of later adulthood simply will not allow them the time to make such a commitment. For Gideon Foster, there was no such issue. 

It could well have been that, as a man living in Todmorden, he had witnessed the numerous indie bands cropping up around the famous Trades Club in recent years. Acts like The Lounge Society and Working Men’s Club have put the small West Yorkshire market town on the map, but now with Foster releasing his debut album ‘Prophecy’ we may well have to add another name to that list. 

Opening with the brooding and dark ‘Affirmation’ where sparse riffs and echoing drums give provide the album with an interesting initial salvo. Foster’s vocal delivery, heavily layered and smeared in reverb, seems to be there to enforce the track's dark nature that makes it alluring. 

Follow-up ‘Curious Eye’ gives a better insight into Foster’s influences as the song walks the fine line between shoegaze à la The Jesus and Mary Chain and the 80’s big music genre made famous by the likes of The Waterboys. Yet it’s also on this track that we get a better look at the singer’s understated vocal style, where his earnest delivery in lines like “My curious eye / Leads me, deceives me / My constant desire / Feeds me, leads me” adds emotional weight. 

The title track is next with the singer’s reversion to layered and echoing vocals before it turns into a heartfelt ballad fit alongside anthemic piano chords and a clever grandeur of subtle spaciousness. It’s followed by ‘Fatal Kiss’ which also served as the album's lead single, as its distorted bass and steady drum beat give the track a rather rock radio-friendly sound.     

Six Feet Under’ feels like a spaghetti-western-inspired love song initially, with its plodding drums and piano, yet its crescendo into a hair-metal style guitar solo over a cacophony of strings and harmonies once again shows off Foster’s ability to skilfully find grandeur in even the most simple and sparse musical elements.  

The middle section of the release is where nostalgia takes the centre stage. On the second single Gideon offered us, the beautiful ‘Days of Gold’, Foster explores the fatalistic attitude of only remembering yesterday whilst also tentatively looking to tomorrow. ‘Piece of Me’ is an age-old telling of past loves as once again the singer’s subtlety in production and his pained vocal delivery as he sings “Whenever you pass me by / We never have the time to really find out” allows the song to stand above similar ballads.  

Follow-up ‘Picture You’ is the singer’s first tentative steps into the world of pop, with its easy synths and sing-along chorus and again adds a fresh dimension to the release. 

As the album steadily steers to its close the mood once again becomes darker. ‘All Things’ utilises cynical lyrics over heavy, distorted guitars with ‘Hedonism’ also taking on this mantra as Foster presents some far more abstract themes. “A powder pale blue sky as we walk, delirious” he croons in his now trademark reverbed style, painting pictures that leave the listener in another world.  

Cross The Stream’ and penultimate track ‘Temptation’ feel like country songs, where Foster again flaunts his knack for witty lyricisms over gentle acoustic guitars and soft piano chords. The fact he can so easily deviate into this genre proves just how talented a songwriter he is. 

The album closer ‘Anarchy’ perfectly fits its name as the distorted intro abruptly gives way to a sharp string section as Foster chants “Born to live / but not to serve” in a song that creates a dystopian future through his once again brilliantly subtle lyrics. The track develops into an almost hymn-like deluge of harmonised vocals as it eventually allows the album to fade out in a beautifully ethereal manner. 

It may have taken Gideon Foster over fifty years to produce what is undoubtedly one of the more compelling albums of the year, but it was certainly worth the wait. 

James Ogden 

Image: ‘Prophecy’ Official Album Cover

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