MP3 Jen Foster - The Underdogs
Misfits and Outcasts Find a Home on "The Underdogs." This 11 song collection combines common life struggles: shattered dignity, alienation and emotional chaos that ultimately give way to redemption and hope.
11 MP3 Songs
POP: Folky Pop, FOLK: like Ani
We all know what it feels like to be shunned by the cool crowd, abandoned by a friend or lover, scorned by those closest to us. Sometimes the people we trust the most are the cruelest, even though we can''t help who we are. Just being ourselves is somehow not enough. We don''t fit in. Our individuality has been degraded from a badge of honor into a cause for shame.
Enter ''The Underdogs,'' a 11-song collection by Jen Foster, in which she gives voice to these universal themes with tales of heartbreak, escape and self-awareness. Working with acclaimed producer Jeff Trott (Sheryl Crow, Stevie Nicks,) Foster creates a cohesive landscape of personal struggle and internal drama. A five-song preview EP will be available on September 20th, and will coincide with a series of tour dates this Fall. The EP and tour will precede National distribution of the full album, scheduled for February 2006.
Known for her direct, honest lyrics, Foster does not disappoint on her sophomore effort. She evokes concrete images we can all relate to, as she sings of mistrust within relationships and creates a palpable sense of being uncomfortable in one''s own skin. Trott''s intelligent and understated production is the ideal complement to Foster''s intense, deliberate and melancholic songs.
Jeff Trott comments:
"Jen Foster is my new hero. The sound of her voice is truly beautiful to me. She has a way of writing songs for anyone who has ever been at the short end of the stick and turning it into a victory. Lyrically, her details are very poetic and brave. Most songwriters hide behind oblique imagery. Jen revels in baring her heart."
Trott, a former member of World Party, is widely respected for his work with Sheryl Crow, having co-written some of her biggest hits. For ''The Underdogs'', he brought together a handful of accomplished musicians, including drummer Victor Indrizzo (Macy Gray, Alanis Morissette, Beck,) bassist Justin Medal-Johnsen (Beck) and Roger Manning on keyboards (Beck). The album''s Engineer was Greg Collins (U2, Matchbox 20, Jewel, Audioslave, Gwen Stefani). Lyle Workman (Sheryl Crow, Beck) and Jeff Trott played most guitars, with long-time Jen Foster band-mate Danny Torroll joining in for acoustic work.
With rich, confident lyrics, engaging melodies and a clear thematic thread, Jen Foster''s ''The Underdogs'' marks a creative leap forward for the promising new artist. On ''All This Time'', an everyday act such as "going out for groceries" comes to symbolize the fragile trust that embodies new relationships, especially ones that have been damaged by secrets or infidelity. On the winning song ''Taking Bob Dylan'', a relationship disintegrates and a couple''s possessions are divided up, not the least of which being their Dylan record. It''s a simple and powerful image, instantly recognizable by anyone who has experienced a painful break-up.
On the title track, Foster paints wrenching, detailed portraits of childhood isolation and intolerance, with a sensitive touch reminiscent of Mary Chapin Carpenter''s ''Stones In The Road''. Foster shifts gears and channels Dolores O''Riordan of The Cranberries on ''Broken'', conjures tales of adolescent invincibility on the anthemic ''We Were Gods'' and sings of escape and possibility on the radio-friendly ''Saturn''.
The lush, dreamy ''Sun in Seattle'' is deceptively calm and inviting, bringing to mind Simon and Garfunkel in its austere melody and softly doubled vocals. Foster, in song notes as seen below, describes this song as "a sad portrait of a person hanging on to a dead relationship."
Two ballads are standouts on ''The Underdogs'' -- On ''Amen'', Foster sings of overcoming fear and adversity to rise anew. With layered harmonies and lyrics reflecting the beauty (and the pain) around us, ''Amen'' displays a quiet strength and maturity in Foster''s songwriting. Arguably, the centerpiece of the CD is the beautiful ''Everybody Goes'', an acknowledgement of life''s delicate balance and the devastation of loss. "Everybody Goes, everybody leaves you...", Foster sings with the gravity of someone who has stopped running from her reality.
''The Underdogs'' follows ''Everybody''s Girl'', Jen Foster''s debut CD, which was released to consistently favorable reviews in 2003. Critical praise ran from coast-to-coast for ''Everybody''s Girl'', with press comparing "rising star" Jen Foster to Sheryl Crow, Joan Osbourne, Bonnie Raitt and others. Reviewers described her no-frills approach and straightforward lyrics as "captivating," "impressive" and "consistently engaging". And, with 128 shows in 43 cities in 2004, she proved her live chops as well in cities large and small. Jen performed at South By Southwest, the Calliope Festival, BMI Showcase, AIDS Benefits, PrideFest events and on the Yellow Umbrella Tour. She headlined, opened for such diverse acts as Sophie B. Hawkins, K''s Choice, Crash Test Dummies, Lisa Loeb, Allison Moorer, The Samples and more. Texan Foster believes in building her fan base the old-fashioned way...on the road.
In 2004, Mainstream and Alternative press from The Boston Globe to The Cleveland Scene helped establish Jen as an ''artist to watch''. From OUT Magazine to Nashville Rage, from HX to SHE Magazine, the impact of the GLBT community''s support was evident as well. Foster''s debut CD included "She," a same-sex love song which put her on the map as a finalist in the Pop division of the John Lennon songwriting contest and a First Prize recipient in the Great American Songwriting contest''s Pop division, and no doubt played a part in her winning ''Best Debut Recording-Female'' at the 2004 Outmusic Awards (her entire album was honored.) Also in 2004, her first single, "Used Black Cars," showed surprising strength at AAA Radio, debuting as the 3rd Most Added track in its first official week of release, trailing only Dave Matthews and Lyle Lovett.
Song Notes for ''The Underdogs'', written by Jen Foster:
ALL THIS TIME
"This is a very personal song, written when I was between relationships. I remember being distraught at the time, and I think it was because I realized there was no one in my life I could be completely honest with - or perhaps no one I was willing to be honest with. The girl in the song is struggling with the endless paranoia that her lover is leaving her, while also dealing with a dark secret from her youth that leads her from one lie to the next. In the end, the lover proves to be deserving of trust - and lets her know that he/she is simply going out for groceries...the song is really about the fear of abandonment spiraling into a sad state of paranoia."
TAKING BOB DYLAN
"A classic break-up song...It hit me hard when she moved out, all the precious things that had meaning to us, slowly being taken from me, like pieces of my heart slowly being ripped away. But, WHAT exactly are the precious items that go when you break up with someone? They were easy to come up with: the pictures, the sweaters, the books, the records...for me, the music we shared was the most symbolic of the devastation I felt. There went Bob Dylan, along with my girl..."
"My anthem. From a young age, I observed that life is not fair. There''s an ''us'' and a ''them'', and that bothered me...I wanted to make it fair, make it right. The misfits, the outcasts, called out to me...and I loved being near them because I felt they were special - they were on a higher plane. Ultimately, the journey is about finding ourselves, because there''s an underdog in all of us. When we learn to nurture it, the space between "us" and "them" closes up...acceptance and tolerance are the goals. Hopefully the "popular" people will relate to this song as well, and I trust they will...They are no more the enemy than are the misfits. We are all the same deep down. As for me, I''m still trying to figure out where I fit in."
"A valentine to my artistic heroes. This started as another song, with another melody, and in the process of writing a verse, Kathy Scott (my writing partner on this track) said, "it wouldn''t be David without Michelangelo," and I said, "WAIT! That''s it! That''s the chorus!" It was such a brilliant sentence - it was too good to be a verse, it had to be the central concept. The next day, I sat down and wrote the entire song...deeply inspired and excited by the idea that there is no art without the artist. The concept of artistic creativity is so extraordinary and at the same time, incredibly simple. The artists I praise in this song have given us endless gifts."
"This one just flowed out of me, as if it was being channeled. It was such a humbling creative moment, and I feel this may be the song I''m most proud of. I wanted to write a comforting song - the visual could be a soft blanket of clouds that you can float in...something that, for me, recalled the spirit of Jeff Buckley''s "Hallelujah"...something to convey a calm, spiritual peace in the face of this complicated life. I sing "at times this world can be so beautiful," but that includes the pain - the pain is beautiful, too, since it''s all part of this symphony of life...yeah, bittersweet."
"Someone comes along and breaks you all apart, and then leaves you missing a piece you can''t survive without. Relationships change us forever. We''re never the same -- we morph every time we love and lose someone. The falsetto in my voice is an intentional representation of the highs and lows of this ride. There''s an eerie, urgent feeling...dark and dramatic, because the emotion in loss is inherently over the top."
IN BETWEEN POSES
"This was written at a time when I felt bombarded by people''s opinions about how I should present myself as an artist - and as a human being, really. We''re ''on'' so much of the time, and it struck me that the times resting between those moments are usually the most honest and beautiful. I also thought about my happiest moments, at home in my pajamas, and with that, it turned into a love song. If there''s any song that captures how I truly feel inside, it''s ''Poses''. And I love what Jeff brought to the table on this song -- he really stripped it to its essence."
"Developed from a progression of four chords, ''Saturn'' is based on the concept of escape. I was inspired by the rush you feel when you hear "Fast Car" by Tracy Chapman, and then ultimately it evolved into a song about two lovers trying to get away from the difficulties of this world...This is one of my favorite songs to perform live."
"I wrote this around the "hook" piano line. I don''t play piano very often, but whenever I sit down at one, that little progression is what I play. My lack of expertise on the piano resulted in a starkness of melody, and that became a big part of what makes the song haunting. I debated about how this song could be perceived as completely hopeless and depressing, as I usually have a light at the end of the tunnel in my songs. But the hopelessness is valid and should have its own voice. We all feel it at some point. It is what it is, and I didn''t want to give this track a Hollywood ending."
WE WERE GODS
"High School. The glory and the unrecognized ironies of youth, and then the dreamers turned into lawyers, the freaks turned into artists, and on and on. We all start off with such promise - and sometimes, we lose our way (sometimes, we find it!) Either way, at one point, in that moment, there was no stopping our ambitions..."
SUN IN SEATTLE
"If music was something you could paint, this would be my watercolor. This song tears me up. It''s a sad portrait of a person hanging on to a dead relationship. Her lover is gone, and yet she is still holding out hope. She''s already struggling to hold on to her sanity, and this blind, defiant hope is driving her over the edge. The vocal melody just poured out of me, once I locked into the line "and I thought you might come home this summer...""