The position that Radney Foster enjoys in the country music landscape is remarkable. Mainstream country music and independent Americana tend to occupy separate orbits. Yet for 24 years, Radney has thrived in both as a songwriter, recording artist, live performer and producer. His songssolo, with Foster and Lloyd and recorded by other artistshave topped the country, Americana, and AAA charts alike. At the same time, he's earned the respect of his peers and a devoted audience as intent on listening as they are eager to dance. Even this far into his career he's still shaking things up, this time with a gutsy new album, Revival.
Radney developed his best-of-both-worlds sensibilities growing up in the small town of Del Rio, Texas. He absorbed a varied diet of music from the local pop radio station by day and a boundary-less definition of country from renegade border station XERF by night.
In the early 1980s, he came to Nashville and started the daily discipline of co-writing. He met up with another struggling songwriter, Bill Lloyd, and the two began writing together. The songwriting partnership led to cuts by The Sweethearts of the Rodeo and Ricky Van Shelton, but it was the demos the duo recorded together that caught the attention of RCA Records. Foster and Lloyd put out their first record in 1987 and became the first duo in country music history to score a No. 1 with their debut single, "Crazy Over You." Their music appealed as much to college rock listeners looking for an edgy roots sound as it did country fans craving tradition, and they went on to release three ground-breaking albums for the label.
When the duo parted ways, Radney followed his heart into recording a pair of "stone-cold country" solo albums for AristaDel Rio, Texas, 1959 (named for where and when he entered the world) and Labor of Loveproducing smart, memorable hits like "Just Call Me Lonesome" and "Nobody Wins."
At that point, personal turmoil led him to record the darker-edged See What You Want To See with producer Darrell Brown and engineer Niko Bolas. "I had gone through a divorce and my young son moved with his mother to France," Radney says. The album is considered a classic of alternative country, and the songs on it have since been cut by acts like Keith Urban ("Raining On Sunday," and "I'm In") and the Dixie Chicks ("GodSpeed").
Radney's label folded soon after the release, so he set out on his own with three independent albums: a live set, Are You Ready For the Big Show?, the pop-inflected Another Way To Go and the roots rock-leaning This World We Live In, also co-produced by Brown.
And that brings us to the present. Arriving a full decade after See What You Want To See and recorded with the same trusted studio team (Brown and Bolas), his new project is a solid bookend to that watershed album. But it's also more than that.