A man, his guitar and his iPhone, that’s all Vancouver’s Jim Foster needed to record the 11 tracks featured on his latest minimalistic release 6 Foot Ladder. Foster’s technique of recording songs directly onto his iPhone served him well on his previous release, “A Sailor’s Advice” and works equally well on this collection of bare bones folk and blues tracks. Whether it’s the gospel driven “When You Come into the World”, the folksy “Goin down the Road” or the charming simplicity of the album’s title track, Foster has recognized that you can attain a maximum effect from a minimalist effort. Yes it sounds like a bit of a vanity effort, yet Foster’s none-production, straight-to- track technique, reveals the pure quality of his work and the former frontman for CBS recording act Fosterchild is an extremely gifted musician.

(Quest) FIVE STARS Keith Sharp



Vancouver singer/songwriter Foster (ex-Fosterchild and One Horse Blue) recorded this seven-song outing entirely on an iPhone (why not?). The sound quality is remarkably pristine: six- and 12-string acoustic guitars pump up Foster's funky folk-blues, while his emotionally charged, road-worn vocals crackle with a whiskey rasp reminiscent of John Hiatt and Tom Waits.

Download this: "Does Take A While"

(Quest) FOUR STARS Greg Potter TVW


Record seven songs with no headphones into your iPhone, run them through a Mac computer, add some stereo echo and the result is Jim Foster’s A Sailor’s Advice, as he notes, kinda like Sun Records gone digital. This amazingly efficient and cost effective recording method has produced an excellent set of acoustic guitar solos and plaintive folky lyrics, all packing a distinctive nautical spirit. The sheer simplicity of tracks like “Don’t Let Em Bring You Down” and “It Does Take A Little While” are to be applauded, suggesting that the former frontman for Fosterchild is an excellent live performer.



The hook on this more-than-amiable CD is in its subtitle, iPhone Demos Vol. 1. The album’s seven folk- and blues-based originals were recorded live, in glorious monophonic sound, with just Foster’s voice and his acoustic six- or 12-string guitars straight into a surprisingly sensitive audio program. He then added some reverb and stereo imaging to slightly spooky effect. You can even hear him drinking a beer between cuts.

Beyond all that, the songs stand up as, you know, songs, with Foster’s gruff, somewhat limited voice carrying the earthy authority of a Mark Knopfler or a Jesse Winchester. There is a nautical bent to things, with the emphasis on roving in general. (Sample tip from the title tune: “Don’t order sushi in Denver”.)

Foster, whose last outing, two years ago, was a full-band rock record, has been best known over the decades for writing songs for or with such Canadiana types as Patricia Conroy, Murray McLauchlan, and Doug and the Slugs. A Sailor’s Advice finds him piloting his own craft in a relaxed and very convincing manner.

Ken Eisner