Home Read Albums Of The Week: Ellen Foley | Fighting Words

Albums Of The Week: Ellen Foley | Fighting Words

The veteran vocalist's first LP in eight years is a celebration of classic rock and pop.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Fighting Words is the fifth solo album and first release in eight years from singer Ellen Foley, a veteran vocalist who has worked with The Clash, Ian Hunter, Mick Ronson, Joe Jackson and many others — in addition to being a featured vocalist on one of the biggest-selling rock albums of all time, Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell.

“Every song on Fighting Words could represent something I’ve made it through in life, whether it be personal relationships or experiences I’ve had as a singer and actress,” said Foley. “My songwriter, Paul Foglino, is well acquainted with the peaks and valleys of my history. He does an amazing job interpreting them into songs for me to sing. As for the album title, let’s just say that I was not a fan of the previous presidential administration. There is a definite undercurrent of resistance in songs like Leave Him Janie or This Won’t Last Forever.”

The resulting album is very much a rock ’n’ roll record, often recalling the 1970s heyday of legendary units like Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band or Bob Seger’s Silver Bullet Band. Foglino, who previously wrote and performed with the group 5 Chinese Brothers, plays guitar and helped Foley assemble the musicians. Among the players is C. P. Roth, who contributes bass guitar, keyboards, and drums. Roth was collaborating with Foley in the Off-Broadway production of Club Dada (In Difficult Times) in Manhattan when the show was closed due to Covid-19. Steve Goulding, the primary drummer for the sessions, was previously a member of Graham Parker & The Rumour and The Mekons. Ula Hedwig, a longtime friend of Foley’s, provides backing vocals. Hedwig’s resume includes extensive work with Darlene Love, and also with Bette Midler as a Harlette. Stephen B. Antonakos, another guitarist on the album, tragically died of Covid-19 in 2020. Additional musicians are detailed below.

The wide array of talent has delivered a diverse, radio-friendly collection of eleven songs. Album opener Are You Good Enough and Leave Him Janie are tough rockers that evoke the storied days of Laurel Canyon classic rock. I’ll Be True and Foley’s cover of Wilson Pickett’s I Found a Love are emotive rhythm & blues infused with the girl group harmonies which enraptured Foley as a youth in St. Louis. I Call My Pain by Your Name is Foglino’s convincing take on country blues. And while the record is primarily an organic-sounding, roots-rock affair, the closing track, Foley’s version of Meat Loaf’s Heaven Can Wait, finds the vocalist closing the curtain with an altogether different dramatic flair. Although Foley did not contribute to the original version of this Jim Steinman-penned track from Bat Out of Hell, she now makes it fully her own, with a dramatic, show-stopping solo vocal performance.”