During interviews to publicize his just-released album, Another Way to Go, Radney Foster is hearing different conclusions from those who get paid to express their opinions.
"If I'm talking to a rock critic,"
Foster tells CMT.com, "they'll say, 'This record moves back to your country direction.' And then
if I talk to a country critic, they say, 'This is still moving more in that alternative rock direction.'"
spend a lot of time analyzing his own stylistic routes. However, he does say that Another Way to Go probably falls
somewhere between the country approach of Del Rio, TX 1959 (his 1992 solo debut album) and See What You Want to
See (a 1998 project that leaned more heavily toward a pop sound).
"I thoroughly believe that if you ask people
out in the highways and byways what country music is, it's much broader than what Nashville's powers that be say it is," Foster
says. "A jazz fan is going to tell you that Norah Jones' record is a country record -- and a country fan is going to say it's
a jazz record."
"Everyday Angel," the first single from the Dualtone album, has spent several weeks atop the Texas
Music Chart. Nationally, the song stands at No. 50 on Billboard's Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart.
is inspired by Laura McCray, an African-American woman who became friends with Foster and his wife, Cyndi. Foster first met
McCray at a Nashville church, but it wasn't until her funeral that he learned that "Miss Laura" had been on the front lines
of the civil rights movement in Alabama during the early '60s. Foster wrote the second verse from a childhood memory about
his attorney father inviting an abused woman to move into their home after representing her in a divorce case. The last verse
is about New York City firefighter Dave Fontana, who died while helping others during the World Trade Center attacks.
by Jim Shea, the video for "Everyday Angel" shows Foster walking along the streets and bridges of New York City with his 11-year-old
son, Julien. Five years ago, Foster became an advocate for father's rights when his ex-wife remarried and moved to France
with Julien. "My only real time to be with him now is during the summer, so I shut down," he says. "I don't do anything."
Foster made an exception by scheduling a three-day video shoot, but he took his son with him to help out behind the
camera. Foster explains, "When we got there, Jim Shea said, 'Your relationship to your son is very special. You're basically
here showing your son about New York City, what happened here and what a great city it is. I think that's very integral to
the song, and I think he ought to be on camera.'"
Another highlight of Foster's new album is "Scary Old World," the
last song he wrote with Country Music Hall of Fame member Harlan Howard. The track
also features a guest vocal from longtime friend Chely Wright.
was partially responsible for landing a song on the Dixie Chicks' new platinum album,
Home. Even before Natalie Maines joined the group, the Chicks had recorded Foster's "Whistles and Bells" for an independent
album. "Never Say Die" -- a song Foster co-wrote with George Ducas -- made its way to the trio's Wide Open Spaces album.
But "Godspeed (Sweet Dreams)" is a song he never expected anyone to record.
"I used to sing my boy to sleep before
he moved to France, so I wanted to write something that would be a kid's lullabye," he says. "I had put it on a cassette in
my home studio so that my son could put it in his Fisher-Price [tape player] at his house in France and go to sleep to it."
the Chicks were fielding material for what became Home, Foster says, "They called me and about a dozen other guys they were
fans of as songwriters and said, 'We don't want publishers to send us what they think we ought to have. We want you to send
us your favorites. There's no telling whether this album is ever going to come out, so just send us something you love."
his wife of the conversation, she said, "Natalie just had a baby. They might do 'Godspeed.' If nothing else, she'll like playing
it as a lullabye to her kid."
Foster resides in Nashville, but he still has strong ties to Texas and is encouraged
by the music scene in the Lone Star state. When asked about some of the Texas media's sniping toward younger acts such as
his friend Pat Green, Foster says, "The critics love to get pissed off at who those guys' audience is. They are hacked off
because they love Robert Earl Keen as a folk artist, but they hate the fact that a bunch of drunk college kids want to sing
every word and go down to his shows.
"But I'll bet money that when those guys were in college, they wanted to go down
to a show just as drunk as Cooter Brown and sing every word during a Waylon Jennings
concert -- and nobody complained then." Foster laughs, "I mean, cut those kids some slack!"