Jeffrey Foucault show is poetry in emotion

Jeffrey Foucault performs in the 2nd Shift Music Series last night at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation in Waltham.


During his performance last night at the Charles River Museum of Industry & Innovation in Waltham, Jeffrey Foucault joked that he once got a gig on a Scandinavian Christmas show with a theme of “Homecoming,” because in aiming to fill a singer-songwriter slot on the show in Foucault’s native Wisconsin, the promoter Googled “Midwestern Americana singer,” and came up with his name. I would petition Google to produce the same results when users search for “True troubadour.” On today’s music scene there may not be a greater example of a lyrical poet than Foucault.

Even without his rich, sonorous voice and skilled guitar work, Foucault’s songs present beautiful and literate ruminations on life and love. Playing more than half the show solo last night in the resonant chamber of an old factory building, Foucault’s songs took on a spiritual flavor, rising high into the rafters and gently settling like sonic ferry dust. He commanded the kind of rapt attention that is hard to hold in going it alone with just your songs and a guitar.

He kiddingly embraced his spot in the folk-oriented 2nd Shift Music Series by stating at the outset he would, in folk tradition, “destroy all the magic in the songs by talking about them” beforehand.

Foucault said the evening would present a “historical trail” of his songs, starting with his older work before progressing to his new album, “Blood Brothers.” It was a timeline in artistry.

He started out softly and earnestly with, “Miles from the Lightning (A Song for Townes Van Zandt),” a tune from his 2001 debut, and continued down the historical trail. He even included an unrecorded song he had written in somewhat panicked anticipation of his second Signature Sounds release, “Ghost Repeater.” He said he was getting ready to go into the studio for that album, and had misled the producer by telling him all the songs were ready to go. “So I ended up writing this one as I was driving through the desert on my way to Albuquerque,” he said with a laugh.

Listeners got a surprise treat a little more than halfway through the show when Foucault called to the stage the 2nd Shift Music Series curator and his onetime touring partner, Mark Erelli, who had introduced him before taking a seat in the crowd. They launched into “Starlight And Static,” a song Foucault wrote for frequent collaborator and fellow midwesterner Greg Brown. As Erelli provided wonderful guitar accompaniment and backing vocals, they slowly and fittingly built toward “Blood Brothers.”

The first of two standing ovations prompted a brilliant encore of the title track from “Ghost Repeater,” followed by a classic from another lyrical American poet, John Prine, “Speed Of The Sound Of Loneliness.”

If you were a newcomer to Foucault, you couldn’t help but come away last night duly impressed with his uniquely masterful songwriting. As I listened, I was impressed with another thought — having just seen Foucault’s wife Kris Delmhorst command the stage in much the same way at Club Passim last month: I would love the hear the synergy when those two sit down in the kitchen to trade song ideas.