[13 September 2006]
With A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, Josephine Foster has set herself apart from all the free-folk fashonistas. To rewind: Foster first wove her operatic voice through a series of sparse self-accompanied home recordings. Then, for her first two Locust solo records, she made a foray into acid rock (2004’s All the Leaves Are Gone), followed by a return to esoteric folk (2005’s Hazel Eyes, I Will Lead You). But little prepares the listener for her newest album: seven interpretations of 19th century German art songs from Brahms, Wolf, Schubert, and Schumann. Sung in German with extreme vibrato, these selections move from the psychically soothing (“Die Schwestern”) to the stately and charming (“Der König In Thule”). “An die Musik” would serve as an excellent lullaby, were it not for Brian Goodman’s well-placed psychedelic guitar. Goodman’s abstract sublimations, multi-tracked with Foster’s church-recorded voice and guitar, make these songs simultaneously very beautiful and very strange, and move A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing from heavenly to otherworldly. Highlight “Auf Einer Burg” begins with haunting, reverbed a capella vocals before Goodman builds an eerie wall of sound over eleven minutes. And though Foster is often name-checked with peers in the free folk scene, this release proves that she’s truly, stylistically, free.