Foster has been a favorite son in his home state and a cherished find among musical cognoscenti around the country. Now, with Million Star Hotel, he's made the album of his career - he spent five years getting it right, in fact - and the stars have lined up in his favor. He's has come tantalizingly close to tasting the big time. The Right Profile and the Carneys had deals with Arista and Warner Chappell, respectively, and over the years Foster has recorded with such renowned producers as Pete Anderson, Jim Dickinson, Don Dixon and Steve Jordan. But until now, he has paid a price for being slightly ahead of the curve. Not this time.
With the release of Million Star Hotel - Foster's first full-length debut as a solo artist - he has surpassed himself with an album of gorgeous, moving songs that possess uncommon depth. The 14 tracks play through like a song cycle that's moved forward not by an overt plot or concept but by an emotional arc that pulls the listener through a kaleidoscopic range of moods. These include yearning, melancholy, determination and, in the end, grateful and passionate accommodation to life's circumstances. Foster wanted to make an album that felt true to life but also a bit larger than life, and he's succeeded with this soulful, atmospheric set of shivery-good songs.
With its aura of aching beauty and self-revelation, accented by organic production touches, Million Star Hotel bears gem-like reflections of such seminal influences as Neil Young, Ray Davies, Lindsey Buckingham and Hank Williams. You'll even hear occasional nods to such Seventies rock forebears as Bowie, Bolan and ELO in such songs as ""Lost In My Own Town"" and ""Long Gone Sailor."" Members of Foster's old group, the Pinetops, and his current band, the Birds of Prey, contributed to Million Star Hotel. Noted musician-producer Mitch Easter - of Let's Active and R.E.M. fame - stepped in toward the end to mix the album and add a few choice guitar parts.
Yet Million Star Hotel is essentially a one-man show, recorded at odd hours and numerous locales in almost sculptural fashion by Foster. He sang and played guitar, keyboards and whatever else struck him as appropriate as songs took shape in his head. ""I'm really addicted to the feeling of a new song coming at you from way off down the tracks,"" says Foster. ""You hear it coming like a big train, and you just jump on when it comes by.""
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