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With the immediate intimacy of her sweet, classically trained voice, Foster sounds nearly as depressed as A. Camp on the Cardigans’ “Step On Me” or “Nasty Sunny Beam.” Lacking A. Camp's sense of humor and irony, Foster burrows into the misery as if it were an immeasurable pit, and the unrequited or lost love that threw her in were her only friend.

“Wake Up,” which most reminds me of the Cards, is a compelling standout. Apparently love on its way over for dinner is also a problem; on the title song, Foster's lost herself in a relationship but is unable to “pull this weed.” “Missing You Now” offers a more straight-ahead bounce (Carole King and Sheryl Crow can emit deep emotions while making listeners tap their feet and sing along). However radio-friendly that and “Wake Up” may be, it's the simple, startling vulnerability of “Be My Friend Always” that could make Foster a contender for the This Generation's Laura Nyro title. We just need the songwriter to continue to be, as a cheap fortune might say, “unlucky in love,” or to imagine herself so, then swim around in that pretty murk long enough to put together some new strokes. Then I might be impelled to wallow with her in something really splendid, a taste of which is given with “Be My Friend.”

  • Album title: Gardening From The Ground Up (Part One/EP)
  • Artist: Sarah Elizabeth Foster
  • Label: Studio Sarah Records
  • Songs: (1) Wake Up (2) Gardening From The Ground Up (3) Missing You Now (4) Be My Friend Always (5) Let's Go Away
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