Guitarist Tim Foljahn has been around for a while. In addition to making six albums with the New Jersey outfit, Two Dollar Guitar, he’s toured as a support player with Thurston Moore (Sonic Youth), Cat Power, most famously his band was hired to record an album with Americana legend Townes Van Zandt, who died before the project could be completed. Since the mid-90’s Foljahn has released numerous solo projects, that some have suggested his work reflects the same dark, brooding troubadour sensibility of Nick Cave, Lou Reed or Leonard Cohen. That vibe remains present on this newest project, I Dreamed A Dream.
The eight songs here are marked by the tasteful tones of Foljahn’s guitar, his somber vocal readings, thoughtful lyrics, in clean, dry arrangements augmented liberally here and there by lush string arrangements played by Meagan Gould on violin & viola, and Danton Boller on cello & double bass. The strings standout on the brief interlude, “I Dreamed:” and bring a certain familiarity to the Cohen haunted “Day Is Done.” The record opens with “Once,” with plucked violin reminiscent of Andrew Bird, before Foljahn sings the telling languid lyric: “I once made love to the most beautiful of all lonely women in the world,” setting the dreamy tone that persists throughout. Foljahn’s joined as well by his Two Dollar friend Jeremy Wilms on bass and string arrangements, while Brian Kantor provides drums, and Christiana Rosenvinge providing supportive vocals.
“Lowdown Day” is a suitably melancholy finger-picked folk blues, while in “Ghost Ripper,” Foljahn delivers a couple smart angular guitar solos. “Remember Me” percolates with like a train moving down the tracks, yet still clean and uncluttered, with the strings providing tension through to its sizzling climax. “Wake Up!” is a walking electric blues, with a colorful lyric, while “I Can’t Decide” is more a folk rocker, and the album closing title tracks offers an eerie twist of a surf rock. The album simmers with a dark vitality, thoughtfully crafted, and genuinely compelling.
Key Tracks: “Once” / “Ghost Ripper” / “I Can’t Decide”
-Reviewed by Brian Q. Newcomb