By David Beard
Jeff’s voice is one of the top five greatest voices I’ve ever heard, because of the way he expresses himself. It blows me away.
— Brian Wilson
When you think about it, if anyone would know about Jeff Foskett’s vocal prowess, it would be Brian Wilson. Over the years, Jeff has provided backing vocals to some of Brian’s most notable recordings.
There is a quality to Jeff’s voice that is unlike any other in the industry, and although his voice was never really a part of the “Beach Boys blend,” its distinctive quality provided a vocally binding element to decade’s worth of Beach Boys and Brian Wilson-related recordings on which he appears, and I can’t imagine those songs without his trademark falsetto and merging tenor.
For the aptly titled Voices, Jeff teamed with BMG to cull together this grouping of recordings, and although some of the material has made its appearance on previous releases, there is a nuanced level of California-drenched pop music bliss here that just leaps out of the speakers, and you want to turn it up!
If you have watched the 2018 Andrew Slater-directed “Echo In The Canyon” (produced by Eric Barrett, and Slater), I would suggest to you that this album actually mirrors the symbolism that’s so uniquely captured in the film.
Like the film, Jeff carries his emotion throughout each recording, and similar to Jakob Dylan encompasses his view of the Califonia aesthetic … folk, rock, pop, etc. So, for me, Voices emits in a way that I view as Jeff’s personal experience and perspective of the California music movement. Essentially, a love letter to California, and us.
This collection opens with the calypso/folk-tinged “Feeling Just The Way I Do” (from 2018’s Jeff Larson co-op project, Elua Aloha), kick starts the album perfectly and has a strong western skyline ambiance with audio sprinklings of The Eagles, America, and Jackson Browne.
The second song – the Buddy Holly cover of “True Love Ways” (written by Buddy Holly and Norman Petty) – provides a window into Jeff’s vocal range with really interesting results. Rich and deep.
“Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” from Mike Love’s (Michael Lloyd-produced) Unleash the Love (Disc 2), is full of pop bombast and features Mike on vocals with Jeff.
Jeff’s vocal-only take on The Association’s “Everything That Touches You” is gorgeous, and worth every second. The best thing, to these ears, is the love Jeff has for music … I hear his heart.
“Good Vibrations” – the second recording from Unleash The Love – is similar to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” in that they are both great examples of Jeff’s ability to effortlessly move his voice, and shift tones. To his credit, he has never tried to re-authenticate Carl Wilson’s sound, he always did his level best to hit the right notes, and more than succeeded in his execution of staying in the pocket.
Knowing Jeff Foskett since he was a student at UCSB and had a band called Reverie, throughout the years he has been a vocal blessing to all of us. Whether it be The Beach Boys, Brian Wilson and his band, or The Endless Summer Beach Band; so many variations and so many groups have been blessed to have him be an integral member. Not only are all the accolades true regarding Jeff’s vocal range and abilities, but the thing that makes him special is the fact that he is tremendously giving, loving, and a person who never fails to be of service to others. I am delighted that his vocal talents are showcased on this album and I’m forever grateful for his friendship, and the blessing of his talents. — Mike Love
There are multiple moments that make this collection really special: Jeff’s cover of “Warmth Of The Sun”; Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released,” where Jeff handles all the vocals; the vocals only version of Neil Sedaka’s and Phil Cody’s “Laughter In The Rain” (with Valerie Carter); and Buddy Holly ’s “Heartbeat” (written by Norman Petty and Bob Montgomery), which features a groovy exotica/surf vibe and includes Jeff Larson on dual vocals.
Personally, the moment that supersedes everything is Jeff’s take on the Burt Bacharach and Hal David classic, “Say A Little Prayer,” with the vocal arrangement provided by Brian Wilson. The album will warm you, but here, you will hopefully find yourself carried away. The tense instrumental build against Jeff’s vocals makes this song a pure delight.
Special mention goes to the all too brief, vocal only, “Twelve Thirty,” which only lasts nine seconds.
Sadly, in early 2019, Jeff was diagnosed with Anaplastic thyroid cancer. Surgeries and treatments have robbed him of one of his vocal cords … and that makes the very idea that we may not ever again hear him lend his beautifully expressive voice to another recording, ever, hard to accept and imagine. That, in itself, makes acknowledging the closing recording, “Adios” (a Jimmy Webb-penned song recorded by Linda Ronstadt and Brian in 1990), heart-wrenching. Hearing Jeff sing, “but I’ll miss you the most … adios, adios …” it is as though he is saying goodbye to everyone as well as his voice.
What a thrill it was to hear Jeff sing ‘Adios’ with his unique, plaintiff voice. Seems to fit the song perfectly.
— Jimmy Webb
I really do enjoy Voices, and it is my hope that this release, and its contents, warms your soul the same way it does mine.
©2020 David Beard/All Rights Reserved