Folk-blues singer covers Black Sabbath on her new album
Austin singer Ruthie Foster defies classification. Her previous albums have featured covers from the likes of Johnny Cash, David Crosby and Adele, as well as her own originals. For this new project, Joy Comes Back, her first release in three years, the approach is equally eclectic: she tackles songs by the Four Tops, Mississippi John Hurt and, most notably, a Son House-flavored rendition of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.”
She’s also joined by several stellar guests, including guitarist Derek Trucks, bassist Willie Weeks and drummer Joe Vitale. We talk to Foster about how music got her through a tumultuous chapter in her life, plus why she quit the business and signed up for the Navy several years ago.
My Uncle… “Evil Uncle Jeff,” bought a UK copy of Black Sabbath’s Sabotage when it was released in the United States in the early days of CD players. Jeff saw that it was time and introduced me to life as a hard rocker, using this classic album to light my path. Not only do I feel that this is Sabbath’s most underrated album, I would argue it is the best Black Sabbath album ever.
This disc will take you on a 43-minute journey that you might not come back the same person from. I wondered if it was just me, or does this music have power? So, I played the album for some friends, who are hardcore rap fans. These guys had no idea what was about to happen: just like had been done for me, we passed the pipe around the room, then I pressed play. It may be that this album is just herb-friendly, but there are five more Sabbath fans, thanks to these great cuts. I always feel overwhelmed by the transition from the upbeat lyrics of “Symptom of the Universe “ into the dark beginning of “Megalomania.” In fact, until three minutes into the song, just about anyone would feel downright low. But when Tony Iommi’s guitar kicks in… your mood will soar.
This is the only Ozzy-era Black Sabbath album to not reach platinum sales, maybe because it’s not radio friendly and should be listened to as a whole. One warning – I borrowed this CD from “Evil Uncle” Jeff and he has never gotten it back: hold on to yours tightly. –James McCann