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Texas singer/songwriter Ruthie Foster, winner of the 2010 Blues Music Award for Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year for her Truth According to Ruthie Foster release, follows that milestone with this live disc recorded in front of a rightfully enthusiastic crowd at Austin’s blues Mecca, Antone’s. Backed by a versatile band that knows its way around a groove, Foster flexes her broad ranging musical chops. While she’s clearly comfortable with the blues as evidenced by her smoking vocal duet with guitarist Hadden Sayers on "Back to the Blues", her own hard shuffle, "Runaway Soul", the oft covered O.V. Wright show piece, "Nickel and a Nail", and the traditional "Death Came A –Knockin’" (well worth the 11 minute listen!)she really shines when she flexes her gospel and soul roots. Her takes on Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s "Up Above My Head (I Hear Music in the Air)", the traditional "Woke Up This Mornin’" and the Ann Peebles R & B classic "(You Keep Me) Hangin’On" On bristle with soulful energy. She can also get plenty funky as evidenced by "Heal Yourself" where she shares the spotlight with Papa Mali who does a guest turn on guitar. Slowing things down a bit, Foster also does an effective turn as a roots rocker on Lucinda William’s "Fruits of My Labor" and Patti Griffin’s "When It Don’t Come Easy" which she delivers with nuanced power that recalls any number of Bonnie Raitt hits. Of course even great vocalists can get let down if their band misses the mark. That’s not a problem here. While the entire crew does a great job of bringing these performances to life, keyboardist Scottie Miller adds deft keyboard touches that carry the instrumental load on many of the soul and gospel tunes, with guitarist Hadden Sayers really shining on the blues numbers, where his tough solos add as much heat as Foster’s vocals. Solid from beginning to end, this disc makes me wish I was at the show. Smitty

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