Before 2012’s Blood Rushing and Perlas, before the beautiful trio of Graphic As A Star, This Coming Gladness, and A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing, before even lesser-known albums like Born Heller and SOS JFK came the understated Little Life. Released in 2001 and self-recorded by Josephine Foster during her time as a music teacher, the 11-track album takes inspiration from early American music and channels it into a collection of sweet folk songs dedicated to her young music students.
While much of Little Life features playful nods to Tin Pan Alley rhythms and light-hearted, Ella Jenkins-esque storytelling, “Stones in My Heavy Bag” slows the vocals and rhythm down to a beautiful crawl. Here, Foster, who has consistently displayed a nuanced appreciation of structure and form, dwells on the same chord for the entire song, punctuated by ukulele strums and Foster’s harmonized melody that harkens back to work songs, spirtualized music made here for the classroom. Sure, “Stones in My Heavy Bag” technically moves toward its inevitable conclusion, but it feels circular and ever-lasting.
Little Life is reissued today via Fire Records.