Foster, accompanied by guitarist and mandolin picker Glen Mitchell and fiddle player Jessica Rae, delivered 18 of those memorable songs Friday night before an appreciative crowd at Poor David’s Pub. The show, opened by a 45-minute set from Greg Schroeder, was refreshingly acoustic and slightly folk and bluegrass flavored. It served as a celebration of Del Rio, Texas Revisited: Unplugged & Lonesome, Foster’s new rerecording of his masterful 1992 solo debut Del Rio, TX 1959.
The trio performed all of Unplugged & Lonesome in sequential order, including the poignant new song added to the disc, “Me and John R.” The original Del Rio, TX 1959 remains Foster’s artistic calling card. It yielded three mainstream country radio hits, and to this day is his most sought-after recording.
Stripping down those great songs was an ingenious move. Nothing was lost in the process. On the contrary, it took the tracks back to their core. “Just Call Me Lonesome” and “Nobody Wins,” the best known Del Rio numbers, sparkled with tight harmonies and top-notch musicianship. That’s especially true of the melancholy ballad “Easier Said Than Done,” which was simply stunning. Rae’s mournful fiddle defined the mood. Gorgeous.
One more Del Rio cut deserves mention – the country weeper “Closing Time.” That song uses the image of a liquor-filled honky-tonk as a reflective metaphor for a man trying to erase the sadness of a broken home. It is classic country balladry as its best.
The rest of the nearly two hour concert traveled through Foster’s See What You Want to See, This World We Live In and Revival albums. He also sneaked in a couple of super cool Foster & Lloyd tunes – the soaring “Texas In 1880″ and the way-hip “Crazy Over You.”
“I’m In” and “Raining on Sunday,” both from 1998′s See What You Want to See and both songs that million-selling country singer Keith Urban turned into big radio hits, leaped off the stage for me. The former featured plenty of vocal interplay with Rae, while the latter was bathed in harmonious instrumentation. Foster is a master at dissecting amorous relationships. He does that in spades on “I’m In” and “Raining on Sunday.”
With few exceptions everything from Foster’s creative arsenal has proven that country songs are indeed compelling and cathartic vignettes of everyday human emotions. He is truly one of the finest country singer-songwriters from the Lone Star state.