Jeffrey Dean Foster | Million Star Hotel

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Million Star Hotel

by Jeffrey Dean Foster

It's easy to hear influences - from Lindsey Buckingham, Jeff Lynne and Bruce Springsteen to Wings, Neil Young and The New York Dolls, with a slight nod to such contemporary bands as Mercury Rev and Flaming Lips.
Genre: Rock: Adult Alternative Pop/Rock
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Lily of the Highway
4:26 $0.99
2. All I Do Is Dream
4:07 $0.99
3. The Summer of the Son of Sam
6:03 $0.99
4. Little Priest
3:58 $0.99
5. Break Her Heart
5:23 $0.99
6. Don't Listen To Me
5:05 $0.99
7. Long Gone Sailor
5:10 $0.99
8. I know How Your Broken Heart Feels
4:07 $0.99
9. When Will I Be A Man
3:51 $0.99
10. Lost in My Own Town
4:37 $0.99
11. Milk and Honey
5:28 $0.99
12. Corner of My Eye
4:11 $0.99
13. Everything You Say Sounds Like Goodbye
4:16 $0.99
14. Diamond Shaped
4:19 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
"Million Star Hotel" is easily one of the best albums ever to come out of the fertile North Carolina music scene,and it deserves the kind of exposure that the work of home-state peers such as Ryan Adams, Ben Folds and Tift Merritt has enjoyed. Parke Puterbaugh, Rolling Stone Contributing Writer.
Singer, guitarist and songwriter Jeffrey Dean Foster dates his musical career back in the mid-Eighties, when he cofounded the Right Profile. One of the first and best bands on North Carolina’s fertile indie music scene, the Winston-Salem-based quartet played high-energy, rootsy rock and roll. Like many of Foster’s musical undertakings over the past two decades, the Right Profile were ahead of their time. (Interesting footnote: Foster’s foil in the Right Profile, pianist Steve Dubner, went on to fame in the writing field as coauthor of Freakonomics.)

Long before the Americana movement caught fire in this decade - before the genre even had a name - Foster also piloted an early-Nineties group called the Carneys which included Andy York (now with John Mellencamp), whose unreleased album is a veritable blueprint for Americana’s synthesis of country, folk, roots and rock. Later that decade, Foster’s next band - the Pinetops, released an album of protean American music, Above Ground and Vertical. It contained the wistful classic “I’m So Lonesome I Could Fly,” which has been covered by Marti Jones and others. Again, Foster was breaking ground in a field that hadn’t yet found the broader audience it now enjoys. After the Pinetops’ demise, he cut a raw, quasi-live solo EP called the leaves turn upside down, which stood singer/songwriter conventions on their head and set a tone of fearless artistry that would find expression on his new album, Million Star Hotel.

Foster has been a favorite son in his home state and a cherished find among musical cognoscenti around the country. Now, with Million Star Hotel, he’s made the album of his career - spent five years of his life getting it right, in fact - and the stars have lined up in his favor. He’s come tantalizingly close to tasting the big time before. The Right Profile and the Carneys had deals with Arista and Warner Chappell., respectively, and over the years Foster has recorded with such renowned producers as Pete Anderson, Jim Dickinson, Don Dixon and Steve Jordan. But he has paid a price for being slightly ahead of the curve. Not this time.

With the release of Million Star Hotel - Foster’s first full-length debut as a solo artist - he has surpassed himself with an album of gorgeous, moving songs that possess uncommon depth. Its 14 tracks play through like a song cycle that’s moved forward not by an overt plot or concept but by an emotional arc that pulls the listener through a kaleidoscopic range of moods. These include yearning, melancholy, determination and, in the end, grateful and passionate accommodation to life’s circumstances. Foster wanted to make an album that felt true to life but also a bit larger than life, and he’s succeeded with this soulful, atmospheric set of shivery-good songs.

“There are a lot of recurring motifs - musical approaches and sounds, but mostly lyrical and mood kinds of things - that I was not at all aware of until I see them laid out now,” says Foster. “I think throughout Million Star Hotel there’s some kind of longing for something that you half-remember or the way you felt when you were 17 or 27 or whatever.”

With its aura of aching beauty and self-revelation, accented by organic production touches, Million Star Hotel bears gem-like reflections of such seminal influences as Neil Young, Ray Davies, Lindsey Buckingham and Hank Williams. You’ll even hear occasional nods to such Seventies rock forebears as Bowie, Bolan and ELO in such songs as “Lost In My Own Town” and “Long Gone Sailor.” Members of Foster’s old group, the Pinetops, and his current band, the Birds of Prey, contributed to Million Star Hotel. Noted musician-producer Mitch Easter - of Let’s Active and R.E.M. fame - stepped in toward the end to mix the album and add a few choice guitar parts.

Yet Million Star Hotel is essentially a one-man show, recorded at odd hours and numerous locales in almost sculptural fashion by Foster. He sang and played guitar, keyboards and whatever else struck him as appropriate as songs took shape in his head.

“I’m really addicted to the feeling of a new song coming at you from way off down the tracks,” says Foster. “You hear it coming like a big train, and you just jump on when it comes by.”

It is Jeffrey Dean Foster’s time to shine, and Million Star Hotel will induce many new listeners to embark on an endlessly rewarding musical journey.

Parke Puterbaugh - Rolling Stone Contributing Writer



to write a review

Patrick Balestrieri

Million Star Hotel is Brilliant!
Simply put - Jeff Foster is a brilliant songwriter who has made a brilliant work of art that needs to be heard. Million Star Hotel needs to be in your record collection. It is that good. You need to have it and, once you do, you will be glad. I have 2 copies - one for home and another that will be played in my car consistently for a long time to come.


Rock and Roll opus, from loud guitars to quiet tears
Million Star Hotel, with its nearly retro arena-rock guitar riffs -- yet coupled with gentle numbers, a trumpet here and the Mellotron there -- adds up to something I seldom say about a new disc: it's fascinating. Smart, simple lyrics (the hardest sort of poetry to write) with threads running through these always-melodic songs sung in Foster's clear tenor, layered over the work of a crack backing band, The Birds of Prey, produces a remarkably vital work. These 14 songs are gems. From the opening guitar crunch of "Lost In My Own Town," one might expect to hear Ian Hunter and Mick Ronson behind the wheel, but instead it's Jeff Foster gliding almost effortlessly back-and-forth between Mott-like bombast and his own ethereally descending chords played quietly, linking -- quite nicely -- two very different approaches. "Little Priest" sounds like the song Tom Petty was trying to write in the early Heartbreaker days. This is a serious record, but more importantly, it's a _sincere_ one. Foster has plenty of talent to pimp himself and his compositions to current trend, but he most decidedly does not. As Foster says, MSH sounds "different." Yes indeed, it does. His band astonishes: Cliff Retallick's keyboards are superb and other-worldly; I can't play even a kazoo, but if I could and I had a band, I'd try to swipe Foster's bass player (and sometime trumpeter) Andy Mabe; and Brian Landrum (who adds all sorts of other instruments and assisted with the production) sounds like the ultimate rock and roll drummer. Foster chose wisely in selecting producer extraordinaire Mitch Easter, another adherent to an often-overlooked stripe of Southern rock and roll. It wasn't all Skynyrd/Allmans stuff (much as I admired them): the city hicks were busy listening to The Move and The Kinks and The MC5. Foster, admirably, doesn't hide his influences on MSH, rather he wears them proudly on his sleeve. I'm not smart enough to come up with fancy reviewer's words, so I'll say this: I keep about 800 discs in my house, and a shameful amount more hidden from my wife in my office in another building out back. I rotate them in and out quite regularly so my wife won't learn how many we _really_ own. Very, very few get permanent status in the living room. Million Star Hotel already has. 'Fascinating,' I said. Yes. And this as well: it's as satisfying a record as I've heard in longer than I care to think about, too long, far too long -- this is the richest work I've heard in years.

David H

A welcome addition
Having followed Jeffrey Dean Foster career all the way back to the day of "The Right Profile" I was excited to see Million Star Hotel finally get released. Local college radio(90.9 WQFS) had played demo tracks for the past year or so. But upon receiving the disk I listened to it uninterupted from start to finish. I cannot recommend this CD highly enough!!! Record of the year I think! So buy this cd now and share it with someone special.

Lee Collins

Amazing recording. How will JDF ever top this CD? :)
The latest package from Notlame arrived and I have just been blown away by the latest cd by Jeffrey Dean Foster, "Million Star Hotel." This album rocks. It's beautiful. It has inspired me to write this little snippet to encourage others to check it out. I hear similarities to The Jayhawks "Sound Of Lies". I hear bits of Big Star/Chilton. I hear Springsteen. Lots and lots of jangly and chiming guitars and piano in the background. Mitch Easter played on and mixed this disc. I'm listening to "Lily Of The Highway" and just when I think the song can't get better, *another* guitar chimes in the mix.

There's no filler on this disc. Every song is either a classic or at the very least interesting. I can't imagine this disc leaving my car anytime soon. My very highest recommendation, 5 stars.

Pop Culture Press

Sprawling and audacious, almost dazzlingly ambitious..
Sprawling and audacious, almost dazzlingly ambitious, Jeffrey Dean Foster’s Million Star Hotel is the kind of record with depth, soul, and a kind of spiritual quality that they just don’t make anymore. Stunningly beautiful…undeniably great.
Luke Torn Pop Culture Press

Bucketfull of Brains London, UK

"every second of this remarkable album cries out to be listened to"
Million Star Hotel is like a multi-faced diamond reflecting light into a hall of mirrors. It¹s full of shimmers of sound floating phantom-like through the ether, suddenly becoming corporeal, solid, robust, and then as
quickly bursting again into slivers and insubstantial after-sounds, then turning into before-sounds again.

A classic pop album from North Carolina, in the lineage of How Men Fail and Travels In The South, that unashamedly mines the tradition, the glories, of the greats. This is a record made by someone who grew up in the 70¹s, whose
teenage years must have been spent in cars with radios. You can hear late Beach Boys, Neil Young, Marc Bolan, Glam Rock, and you hear of a time when music and romance were inextricably mingled.

Put together over a number of years, as and when locale allowed, it¹s a large project and a large album; 14 songs and nearly 70 minutes. They¹re all real big songs, full of diversity, adventure, and surprise. Well-made songs
of the night illuminated by those million stars but created like sculptures or collages; there¹s always something more. Be it atmospherics, distortions or add-ons, there¹s always another teasing little sound in the corner.

There are friends here too. Lynn Blakey, recently of Tres Chicas, sings, notably on “The Summer Of The Son Of Sam”, Don Dixon and Chris Phillips take brief turns, Mitch Easter plays guitar and steel and helps produce. But
it¹s Foster¹s album and it¹s his persona and his strengths that define it. His tender, warm tenor voice is always entrancing. He writes a good and memorable lyric: “bet on a bobtail loser”, “can¹t even count on losers anymore”, “you¹re on the road but I¹m on the street”. He can take classic lines and make them new; we know where titles like “Long Gone Sailor”, “All I Do Is Dream”, “When Will I Be A Man” come from, and we smile
with recognition and it helps us, but it wouldn¹t change a thing if we came completely fresh.

The start is gentle. First an ambience, a little breaking whisper that gradually grows into the tale of a “Lily Of The Highway”. The major motifs are all here gathered; girls, cars, growth, loss. And its questing and its
variance are the promise of what¹s to follow.

A promise absolutely redeemed almost immediately by “The Summer Of The Son Of Sam”. That summer was 1977, when Elvis and Skynyrd both fell to earth. Over six minutes the song rises from a quiet meditative night with cicadas,
lit only by a dying star, into an epic.

Memorable moments persist; there¹s a splendid twist in “Little Priest” as it begins like glam rock, with echoes of T.Rex, and becomes a California surf ballad. “Don¹t Listen To Me” with its After The Gold Rush piano, might
be channelling Danny Whitton. “Long Gone Sailor” seems at least part-written under the influence of Holland, and if “Lost In My Own Town” doesn¹t allude
to Big Star then I¹m a Dutchman.

Yet every second of this remarkable album cries out to be listened to, experienced, and cherished. Everything here is always doing its part; it¹s down to the careful listener to find and explore that everything. For these
songs will never let that listener down and never stale. Always they¹ll inspire, and always they¹ll reward.

Harp Magazine

"Million Star Hotel is absolutely not to be overlooked."
If Ryan Adams had been humble (and smart) enough to distill the best 14 songs from his three recent records onto one we might have Million Star Hotel, by Winston-Salem’s Jeff Foster, as musically/thematically articulate as Adams’ trifecta is sprawling. Working with co-producers Mitch Easter and Brian Landrum, the former Right Profile/Carneys/Pinetops leader showcases his honey-sweet high tenor, his classic rock-leaning arrangement skills and his instinct for rescuing poetic truths from life’s crush. “Lily of the Highway” is so luminous you almost overlook the loneliness and longing seeping from its pores. Both the powerpoppy “The Summer of the Son of Sam” and the anthemic “Lost in My Own Town” have distinctive ‘70s underpinnings—respectively, Big Star and The Move. And piano-and-trumpet anti-war meditation “Milk and Honey” smartly recalls Tom Petty circa Southern Accents. Self-released by Foster (go to, Million Star Hotel is absolutely not to be overlooked.
By Fred Mills
Harp Magazine

Ed Bumgardner,

This is as close to perfection as rock 'n' roll should be allowed to come. It's
This is Foster's Born To Run. It's an album born of desperation, an emotional summation of past musical byways that supports messages of a need for search and escape, and a yearning for peace in an increasingly complex world. It is also Foster's equivalent of Fleetwood Mac's Tusk, a sprawl of diverse songs, connected by one man's singular vision and given texture by the cast of accompanying musicians.

It's not a short album - it clocks in at 65 minutes - but it stops time, poignant in its cohesive grace and flow. It is also a work best digested whole - not that there is any shortage of magnificent solitary songs: "Summer of Son of Sam," "Break her Heart," "Lily of the Highway" are just three of many enchanting songs that cannot be ignored.

Good as the songs are - and they are very, very good - it is the multifaceted presentation that brings magic. Foster has finally found the way to frame his emotive, somewhat fragile voice, writing delicate songs capable of withstanding a pounding or sustaining atmospherics and sharp dynamics.

More than any album this year, Million Star Hotel offers a far-reaching expression of the greatness of rock 'n' roll. This is as close to perfection as rock 'n' roll should be allowed to come. It's the real deal.

Jeri Rowe

Nicely done, Mr. Foster. Nicely done.
There's no doubt: "Million Star Hotel," a slang for being homeless under the stars, is Foster's baby. Or, more appropriately, it's Foster's labor of love.

"Million Star Hotel" taps into that expansive guitar-and-piano rock from his youth. It was before Foster joined The Right Profile in the early 1980s, became part of a major-label band and propelled itself into the annals of Winston-Salem's storied musical past. No, "Million Star Hotel" springs from the time when Foster listened to a loud rock show at Groves Stadium from his house, a time when Elvis Presley died, Lynyrd Skynyrd's plane crashed and some band called the Sex Pistols invaded America.

Yet "Million Star Hotel" has a melancholy beauty that comes with age. Foster is 45, married and the father of a 5-year-old girl. And each of the tunes on "Million Star Hotel" has a feeling of disconnect and loss.

What makes it work is Foster's insightful lyrics and his earnest, almost cherub-choir tenor.

It only helps lines like "I took a walk down by the river, I was thin and pale and slow" from "Milk and Honey" resonate with emotion.

Then, take into account the rough-and-tumble accompaniment from Foster's guitar, Rettallik's piano and Landrum's drums and those arrangements that twist, stretch out and become something totally different in a five-minute song.

Yes, it was well worth the wait.