After more than five years, Tim Foljahn has returned with a stunning new solo album, I Dreamed a Dream, being released May 7 by Cart/Horse Records as a digital download, CD and via streaming platforms.
I Dreamed a Dream reunites Foljahn with noted producer/engineer/mixer Tom Beaujour (Juliana Hatfield, Nada Surf, Jennifer O’Connor) who worked on Tim’s previous releases Fucking Love Songs (Kiam, 2015) and Songs for an Age of Extinction (Kiam, 2012). Beaujour and Foljahn’s producer-musician relationship has evolved into something just short of telepathy; as Tim has refined his writing, singing, and playing, Tom has continued finding the perfect means of complementing him sonically.
Recording occurred off and on over the past several years at Beaujour’s New Jersey-based Nuthouse studio. It took a while as Tim was busy filming episodes of the hit show Orange Is the New Black, appearing as a member of “Sideboob,” Assistant Warden Caputo’s bar band, not to mention pursuing his Master’s degree in psychoanalysis.
Foljahn’s decades as a highly in-demand studio and on-stage guitarist and ever more accomplished and sophisticated songwriter crystalize on this new album. His trademark songcraft, guitar expertise, and seamless genre change-ups are all present and accounted for, but now imbued with an added sense of depth and beauty. The “dream of life” is a recurring lyric theme, along with disillusionment, and ultimately resurrection. The album is mature, vital. Tim not only draws from his many vaunted experiences in music, but from the ever-shifting world around him.
Foljahn’s self-produced instrumental soundtrack Dead River arrived in 2014.
Although he’s released solo work for over a decade, Tim has always thrived on collaboration. He put out five diverse and critically-acclaimed albums as Two Dollar Guitar with Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley and a rotating cast of bandmates. His distinctive guitar stylings have graced records by Cat Power, Half Japanese, Thurston Moore, and many others; he has performed live on stage with greats such as Townes Van Zandt and Boredoms. For I Dreamed a Dream, Foljahn reconvened with two longtime Two-Dollar teammates: bassist/arranger Jeremy Wilms (TV on the Radio, Julian Velard, etc.) and the internationally renowned Danish / Spanish / New York vocalist Christina Rosenvinge (who’s worked with Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth as producer). On drums is the sublime Brian Kantor (Fruit Bats, Vetiver), who also contributed to Fucking Love Songs.
The rhythm section of Wilms and Kantor anchors the loping groove of “Ghost Ripper,” as Foljahn unleashes two killer solos. That’s followed by the raw electric blues of “Wake Up” (from the album’s titular dream — because the girl is gone, daddy, gone). The bouncy “I Can’t Decide” contains a much sunnier lie-l-lie refrain than the one in Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Boxer;” this song previously appeared in much grungier form on Rough Trade Publishing’s 2017 indie all-star compilation A Song a Day, which benefited the Southern Poverty Law Center. “Remember Me, My Love” is a propulsive rocker — until strings give it a psychedelic twist.
Oh yes, there are strings, luscious strings! Wilms’ meticulous arrangements for Meagan Gould (violin/viola) and Danton Boller (double bass/cello) run parallel to one another, dancing in and out of formation. Gould and Boller’s precise playing flavors several tracks, including the gorgeous opener, “Once.” It kicks off with spare plucking, before Foljahn’s rich, warm voice delivers the opening line: “I once made love to the / most beautiful of all / lonely women in the world.” It heralds an album full of compelling, thoughtful lyrics. Guitar comes to the forefront in “Low Down Day,” a country-flavored tune with a shuffling beat, as the narrator contemplates inner darkness.
All the performers get to stretch out over nearly six-and-a-half minutes of the majestic, Leonard Cohen-haunted “Day Is Done.” Ah, but the album isn’t done quite yet. For we succumb once more to the unconscious in the swirling, hypnotic “In My Dreams.” Underpinned by a subtle African beat, two guitars chase each other’s tails, one phased, one twanging. Ghostly backing vocals. Wheezing electronics. And then… it’s gone. Was it all a dream? No, it’s the great Tim Foljahn.