New York Times Quote

I first saw Foucault play in a little Missoula theatre years ago, when many of us who grew up spinning our elders' albums—Townes and Dylan, John Prine and Greg Brown—wandered around dolorously wondering when the next real songwriter would come along. Stetson sweaty, that little vagabond spark in his eye, he spun out a long Beam-fueled set and when it was over I walked out into the warm rain and thought, Damn. So that’s where he’s been. Since then Foucault has given American poetry some of its most vital lines and his musical searchings have become touchstones of density and durability. On this new record—his most poignant, honest, even scathing—his cry is a belt of pure blue Wisconsin lake ice with a back of December sunlight angling through bare limbed birches. Not so much penned as lived, these songs—about a show played perfectly to an empty bar, the real ones who die with nothing half the time—offer listeners that rare artistic combination of a voice and a world. And while there’s nothing not lonely about these songs, you can’t hear them and feel remotely alone. Here is our hurricane lamp, the heart whose flame won't go out, whatever the wind. Hold it close.

-Chris Dombrowski (from the liner notes to SALT AS WOLVES)

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A show played perfectly to an empty bar. A singer with life and death on his shoulders, swinging a microphone like Samson swung a jawbone. The real ones who die with nothing half the time. With SALT AS WOLVES, Jeffrey Foucault gives us in sound and image what poet and author Chris Dombrowski calls in the album’s liner notes, “that rare artistic combination of a voice and a world”: a tough, spare collection of darkly rendered blues and ballads, like a field recording of a place that never existed. In a series of letters to lovers, friends, heroes, and family, Foucault deftly weaves together disparate strands of sound and experience, raw love, and hard wisdom.

One of the finest songwriters of his generation, Jeffrey Foucault has taken, in his own words, ‘the small roads;’ building a brick and mortar independent international touring career of ten studio albums, countless miles and critical accolades. He’s been lauded for Stark, literate songs that are as wide open as the landscape of his native Midwest (The New Yorker) and described as Quietly brilliant (The Irish Times), while catching the ear of everyone from Greil Marcus to Don Henley (who regularly covers Foucault in his live set), to Van Dyke Parks (who offered to play on Foucault’s 2011 offering, Horse Latitudes, after catching a live radio interview). ‘Salt as wolves’ is a line from Othello describing boldness; a fitting title to frame a record of blues played bold and loosely, without rehearsal or cant. With his fifth collection of original songs Foucault stakes out and enlarges the ground he’s been working diligently all the new century, quietly building a deep, resonant catalog of songs about about love, memory, God, desire, wilderness and loss. SALT AS WOLVES gives us Jeffrey Foucault at the height of his powers, fronting an all-star band, turning the wheel of American music.

Jeffrey Foucault was 17 when he learned to play all the songs on John Prine's eponymous debut on his father's mail-order guitar, spending long evenings in his bedroom spinning piles of old records on a hand-me-down turntable, lifting the needle to transcribe every line of ‘Desolation Row’. At 19 he stole a copy of Townes Van Zandt: Live and Obscure from a friend, and a few years later, having quit school to work as a farm-hand and house-carpenter Foucault began writing the songs that became his first record (2001’s Miles From the Lightning). Since that release he’s been everything from solo country-blues troubadour to frontman for a six-piece rock 'n' roll band, along the way compiling a discography remarkable for its visceral power and complex poetics. Yet it wasn’t until he paired with former Morphine drummer Billy Conway that the final piece fell into place and Foucault found the Luther Perkins to his Johnny Cash: the truly sympathetic collaborator to both frame and fire his terse brand of minimalist Americana.

Since 2013 Foucault and Conway have toured across the United States and overseas together, refining a primal, stripped-down stage show: two men, two chairs; a Sears Silvertone electric tuned low and played through a 5-watt amp; a suitcase kick drum, a low-boy cymbal, a snare drum. The pair play only what they can carry into the club alone in one trip, and cover all the territory from blues and country, to rock 'n' roll and folk with a laconic ferocity and timeless cool. Their dynamic partnership - as nimble as it is sonically powerful - is the bedrock from which SALT AS WOLVES builds an eerie and muscular existential blues.

SALT AS WOLVES is not an exploration but a statement: here is the man in full, extending his musical reach in the toughness and precision of his electric guitar work (as he distills a modal, hypnotic electric blues reminiscent of John Lee Hooker and Jessie Mae Hemphill), in the mature range and depth of his singing, and in the intimacy and vulnerability of his songwriting. Cut live to tape in just three days in rural Minnesota, SALT AS WOLVES moves like a vintage Chess record, with an openness and dimensionality that beckons the listener further in. In language richly simple and profound, Foucault plumbs the implications of a life spent looking for the Real, in a series of epistolary songs that locate the transcendent moment or its seeking, the love we don’t understand, the thing that is lost when a great spirit dies. At the heart of the record the song ‘Slow Talker’ frames the whole in its refrain: ‘There’s one note / If you can play it / There’s one word / If you can say it / There’s one prayer / If you can pray it / And each one is the same.’

Slated for an October 2015 release, SALT AS WOLVES reunites Jeffrey Foucault with legendary electric guitar player Bo Ramsey (Lucinda Williams, Greg Brown), and bassist Jeremy Moses Curtis (Booker T, Cold Satellite), as well as longtime drummer and tour partner Billy Conway (Morphine, Cold Satellite). Caitlin Canty, whose breakout 2015 release, Reckless Skyline Jeffrey Foucault produced and played on, joins the band on backing vocals. It’s a hand-picked lineup whose natural affinity - Ramsey’s economy of phrase and raw simplicity the perfect complement to Foucault’s elegant lines and weatherbeaten drawl - is evident from first moment, the whole ensemble notable for an instinctive restraint and use of negative space. These aren’t kids copping riffs: these are grown men drawing from the deep, strange well of real American music, and they have nothing to prove.

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“Jeffrey Foucault, sings stark, literate songs that are as wide open as the landscape of his native Midwest.”


“Songwriting brilliance.”


“Quietly brilliant…”


“The music of Wisconsin native Foucault is the kind so many aspire to but never attain: beat-up troubadour folk whittled to dolorous perfection…”

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In His Own Words

I take the small roads when I can. I hit the small rooms with a couple old guitars and a 5-watt Skylark amp. Sometimes with a band, and then I stand up. Mostly it’s just me and my friend Billy Conway, the best drummer I ever heard. Then we both sit down and I stomp my foot. I own a Smith Corona typewriter and a Western Bell rotary phone, and I use both. I wore a pearl snap cowboy shirt in my Kindergarten school picture. Irony isn’t my thing. I write songs about love, memory, God, desire, wilderness and loss.

I grew up in Wisconsin. My Dad wore a tie to work and played a knock-off Gibson with a chunk of the headstock missing where he’d backed over it with the car. Mom sang along. I knew all my Grandparents well into my thirties, and both my Great Grandmas. Winter Sundays were for church or ice-fishing, and summers we hauled an old travel trailer up to the north woods. School was a drag, and I mostly drew pictures. When I was 11 I bought a cassette copy of Little Richard’s Greatest Hits. At 17 I learned to play all the songs on John Prine’s 1971 debut in my room with the door locked and subway posters of British New Wave bands looking morbidly on. At 19 I stole a copy of Townes Van Zandt’s ‘Live & Obscure’. At 24 I made a record and start traveling around the country. I have two older brothers. They don’t sing but they both fish.

I live out in New England now in a little town with a river through the middle. I can’t get home without crossing good water and it fairly makes up for living east, which isn’t in my blood. We have a chicken coop and a little barn and an old car that runs. I like to listen to records real loud when I do the dishes, and I do most of the dishes.

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  • Salt as Wolves (To be released October 2015)
  • Cold Satellite: Cavalcade (2013)
  • Horse Latitudes (2011)
  • Cold Satellite (2010)
  • Seven Curses (2010)
  • Redbird Live At The Café Carpe (2010)
  • Shoot The Moon Right Between The Eyes (2009)
  • Ghost Repeater (2006)
  • Stripping Cane (2004)
  • Redbird (with Peter Mulvey & Kris Delmhorst, 2003)
  • Miles From The Lightning (2001)

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* Chris Dombrowski is the author of two books of poetry: BY COLD WATER, and EARTH AGAIN, available from Wayne State University Press, and the forthcoming non-fiction BODY OF WATER, from Milkweed Editions.

Praise for


“Immaculately tailored… Sometimes his songs run right up to the edge of the grandiose and hold still, and that's when he's best… 'Des Moines' [is] close to perfection.””


“A country plea, a blues reach for facts beyond sound, the sense of immediate doom that only a slide guitar can make in its hesitations, its sense of suspension that seem to hold everything a step behind where it ought to be... scary in the bend of the first note”


“Pure Songwriter””


“A marvelous record full of vivid lyrical imagery — goner’d streets, embered darkness, horizon eyes cast down — bound together by a tough, reverberating, electric sound that is often redolent of the blues, without being quite locatable as such.””


“”The music ebbs and flows, but Foucault manages to find a power in his sense of understatement and restraint. It’s a gift few songwriters master, that ability to hold back at just the right moment, to let the listener fall into the sense of absence in a song. Foucault does it better than just about anybody else.”


“SALT AS WOLVES is slow, sometimes smoldering and always deeply poetic whether Foucault is singing about love, loss or God.”


“Salt As Wolves [is] an exquisitely-crafted assemblage of original songs that represents all that is good, pure, and true about American music.”


““Shot through with space, holy ghost haunted and live to tape... SALT AS WOLVES is a CD that gives credence to the idea that 'quiet is the new loud', with the spirit of Foucault's new songs ringing long after the record draws to a close.””


“Raw, emotional... hauntingly beautiful””


“Swirls of dust… occasional gusts of prairie wind… literate songs and an ability to produce raw power in a stripped-down way… Foucault's best album.”


“One of the preeminent singer-songwriters of his generation.”


“The softer the music gets, the more distinct Foucault's songwriting voice becomes, allowing him to show a kind of mean tenderness on the country-folk track "I Love You (And You Are a Fool)" and a sensual ease on the soft-rock lullaby "Take Your Time." When he's inside moments like those, where he's from matters not at all.”


“Dusty and beguiling … With sublime use of restraint and space, there’s something of the wilderness about Foucault’s records. Buy them.”


“Salt as Wolves is a barroom masterpiece… This is one hell of a record.”


“Where many in the Americana scene have re-built a foundation after it has been torn down, Foucault has found a barren wasteland and built a world.”


“This is a terrific album that deserves to be heard by as many people as possible.”


“There is a striking honesty to this record, Foucault's music is genuine and unapologetic… undeniably powerful”


“Jeffrey Foucault has a masterpiece on his hands… An absolute must.”


“The most incisive sounds are generally those that force the listener to lean in closer and take away some hint of emotional circumstance. This is one of those albums, and given Foucault’s intentions, it’s fair to say that he’s made his mark.”


“A zenith album… 12 tracks of classic American country, rock 'n' roll, and folk.”


“…A smoldering collection of dark blues and Americana… the loveliest, lonesomest ballads”

THE ARGONAUT (Santa Monica):

“A musical and career game - changer”


“Searing Songwriting””


“Life and death, surrender and commitment, pain and wanting, a sparse yet rich texture and sound that transcends pure blues””


“glimmers of electric guitar scrolling over a steady brushed-drums beat that anchors Foucault’s sturdy voice...”


“A brilliant collection of songs
roots planted in the blues
but with a contemporary twist...
One of the best records of the year for sure””

Recent Praise for


“Jeffrey Foucault… clocks modern culture about as good as I've ever heard anybody clock it.”


“Pure songwriter… Simple and powerful.”


“There is an uncanny charm to this man that is as captivating as hearing Bruce Springsteen live… sounds of The Band and the night howls of Neil Young… but better than that is his fierce, undying and unwavering pull…We were treated to more than music”


“Carrying on a long tradition of ragged folk, blues and country influences.”


“Foucault has diligently crafted a discography as poetic and visceral as it is seductive and inflicting.”


“Jeffrey Foucault is cut from the same cloth as John Prine… Like Prine his voice leans toward the gravelly but stops short of Dylan-esque mumble-grumble and has just a twinge of country. Also like Prine, Foucault lyrically tends toward some surprising twists that illuminate the realities of contemporary life - songs like “Americans in Corduroys” from his Ghost Repeater album, which mixes a honeymoon with commentary on war. He’s smart and pays attention to melody and a strong hook in his songs… a sure bet for a good show.”


“After releasing a handful of sparse, stark solo albums, singer/songwriter Jeffrey Foucault began widening his sound, piecing together his own brand of textured, midwestern Americana laced with pedal steel, accordion, organ, and electric guitar. He adds some serious muscle to that sound with Calvacade, his second album with the rock band Cold Satellite”


“One of our most truly poetic songwriters… Foucault’s singing is almost nakedly human in that he invariably reaches for the most open honesty of his feeling… The inherent warmth of his throaty delivery tempers the occasional strangeness of his poetic lyric, and invites you into its possibilities…”


“twangy rock… heavily infused with country and blues, in the same vein as Steve Earle or James McMurtry. But where McMurtry will wind a yarn, Foucault spins off one image after another; where Earle heads for the country, Foucault goes off into growling Neil Young territory.”


“Wisconsin’s Jeffrey Foucault is the type of singer-songwriter whose talents sneak up on you. On paper, his description could apply to countless similar acts. In practice, Foucault frequently proves himself better than the rest, recalling the romanticized Americana of Bruce Springsteen, gazing through rain-streaked railway-car windows.”


“Foucault…writes simple but marvelously evocative songs, working traditions that range from Mississippi John Hurt to Chris Smither, to Townes Van Zandt. ‘Horse Latitudes’ and ‘Cold Satellite’, have placed him at a new level of accomplishment.”


“Part John Prine, part Dylan, part lonely cowboy swilling whiskey out on a moonlit prairie…”


“…Jeffrey Foucault is a man born into the wrong era. An age when iPods and Pandora stations queue up hundreds of songs to flick through rewards impatience… Foucault’s music doesn’t”.


“Like a great Townes Van Zandt, Bruce Robison, Guy Clark or Rodney Crowell album, Horse Latitudes is the kind of record that you listen to from start to finish and then sit there and marvel at how well the recording is put together… the songs are simply stunning in their breadth and lyrical scope”.


“This is rock-and-roll in the key of country-noir: bleak visions of departed lovers, flickering TVs and empty landscapes underlined by pedal steel guitar and cello”.


“Foucault has grown as a songwriter in the American Songbook tradition, the understated menace of Springsteen’s Nebraska mixing with the country of Gene Clark. It all gels together on such tracks as Goners Most and the mysterious redemptive title track. After “just” seven albums, it looks like there’s a new kid in town”.


“…pure beauty and one of the best Americana albums this year”.


“His voice, band, lyrics, and overall tone will shake you into submission”.


“HAUNTING AND POIGNANT TRIUMPH FROM AMERICAN SINGER Jeffrey Foucault is an original, beguiling songwriter with a marvelously expressive voice. He brings these talents together, along with fine guitar playing, to create a terrific album… John Updike once wrote of a character who was like an open window through which the rain poured. Foucault’s album captures that poignancy”.


“…unfolds like a sequence of underwater dreams drawn to the surface by literate, vividly image-textured lyrics and a team of top players”


“Jeffrey Foucault pronounces his name “Folk-alt,” and makes saying difficult things seem as easy as this straightforward pronunciation of his French surname. Praised for its tendency to combine raw, weathered emotion with measured elegance, Foucault’s music feels unadulterated and innate, with veins of pedal steel, the big-skied openness of Neil Young and the bizarre, haunting imagery that you might find in a Flannery O’Connor story.”


“Foucault’s voice, and his themes, are gruff, sombre, and deep, and his accompanying musicians, including the Pretenders’ Eric Heywood, on pedal steel, create a sparse, dramatic soundscape.”


“Foucault’s songs are poems, sonically framed to perfection… His voice elucidates meaning as it gracefully and delicately applies it’s unique instrumental tone to the exquisitely balanced whole.”


“Jeffrey Foucault’s music has an ethereal, haunted quality to it that makes descriptors such as “roots soundscapes” and “old-weird-atmospheres” a bit more accurate than the typical “folk” or “Americana” tags… Foucault’s real strength lies in his ability to coax the feeling out of the darkest corners of a tune. His latest release, Horse Latitudes, is being touted as one of the best Americana releases of the year…”


“…he’s not as immediately sexy as, say… Ryan Bingham”


“…wears hats well and writes songs better. If you’re looking for a cold beer and warm songs, this is where you go.”


“Poetic flair and {a} bold approach to songwriting… the timeless feel of artists like John Prine, Neil Young, and Bob Dylan”


“… a stunning lyricist, as well as a captivating performer. There’s an undertow to his singing voice, a gravity the listener can’t help but sink into.”


“Since his fantastic debut album, Jeffrey Foucault has walked a path that crosses folk, country and rock fusing all three elements together into a classic American sound…one of the very best”


“…finds that sweet spot between frayed and mournful Neil Young-styled electricity and the wide-open spaces of acoustic storytelling… (Horse Latitudes is) one of the best songs we’ve heard this year.”


“...a country feel that puts the people who live in the Nashville charts to shame... a deep-ditch electric guitar takes a country song into the blues, and lets it go back where it came from. Nothing is pressed, to the point that sometimes the way the voice pulls away from a word or a guitar from a phrase is its own kind of preciousness—but not in “Twice I Left Her,” which shifts the music into a more resolute kind of quiet, a bigger emptiness in a single room. An acoustic guitar figure comes up against drums buried far away, like a memory. The story creeps out, and stops well short of its end, though you can glimpse it. Foucault drifts over the words so lightly that they seem to fade as they’re sung, and you might stop trying to hear them as words, let them come as sounds”


“Beautiful and often chilling… a mighty powerful piece of work”


“… At the dawn of the 21st century, Cold Satellite intuitively captures mankind’s journey through the seasons”


“… A powerful mix of rock, folk, and country… A musician ably reaching for the sky”


“Reflective roots music… Ghost Repeater drips in pedal steel and quiet beauty.”


“An album full of gravelly, gorgeously rolling poems about weather, trains, and love. Foucault pronounces his last name "Folk-alt," which sounds something like one of those inadequate names given to the acoustic-guitar-driven musical genre of which he is an exceptional practitioner.”


“One of the best albums of the year... there’s nothing derivative about Foucault's haunting allusions… the fundamental truths that emerge are undeniable… a harmonious minimalist sound. ”


“There is no America like the one that serves as a backdrop for the songs on Jeffrey Foucault's aching new album… his spare, rootsy tunes are deceptively complex… the title track is the real stunner here… guitarist and producer Bo Ramsey augments Foucault’s acoustic songs with sinewy fills on electric guitar, adding a high-lonesome feel and ominous undertones.”


“Incisive… a contender for many 2006 Best-of lists… mesmerizing.”


“Revealing layers of wisdom and wonder… [he] can conjure demons as adroitly as his Americana heroes Chris Smither and Townes van Zandt.”


“Quietly brilliant.”


“Excellent… Foucault’s strong, sandy voice and gently melodic tunes seem perfectly suited for nuanced material balancing poetic cultural critiques with songs about love... a mix of upbeat and pensive country-folk and blues… captures that mood without trying to be a definitive statement… oozes a comfortably leathered vibe.”


“Honest and bittersweet… Foucault leavens the heavier moments of dark revelation with tender images and welcome doses of hope… [an] inimitable sense of space… his acoustic guitar is a warm constant - a steady companion to his gentle, leathery voice.”


“Songwriting brilliance.”


“He’s barely 30… but Jeffrey Foucault sounds like a grizzled old bachelor holed up in a one-room shack at the edge of a cornfield… haunting texture…weepy pedal steel… Taking a road trip this fall? Put this one on the playlist.”


“An atmospheric Midwestern poet-troubadour, a charming presence and a splendid guitarist.”


“Jeffrey Foucault’s voice [is] an emotive instrument that reaches an astonishingly wary, intimate place… ”


“ … a talent cut from the same cloth as Nick Drake or Townes Van Zandt… recommended to lovers of every kind of music.”


“Songwriting at its rawest and best.“


“An excellent third album… Americana doesn’t get much finer.”


“A deceptively simple record of slow-yielding but undeniable treasures… exquisite.”