Josephine Foster: “I’m A Dreamer” Review
Experimental artist Josephine Foster recruited a handful of Nashville players for her most recent record I’m a Dreamer. The effect on her sound isn’t quite what you might think. While the record contains its share of pedal steel and honky-tonk piano, it isn’t a Country record in the traditional sense. Foster’s eerily operatic vocals and oblique timing are a prism in which the instrumentation go in, and come out something completely askance on the other side. Time-tested Country identifiers shrivel and become useless in its face. The listener is on their own to navigate uncharted waters. It’s…unusual music. It contains traces of Appalachian folk, but these songs wouldn’t fit in at a hillbilly mountain party. It’s got a bit of old-timey pianola, but in this case operating with scrolls that wouldn’t be found in your atypical old west saloon. It’s a sound that, in short, doesn’t fit easily into any of the orderly musical slots.
All the while the record is busy being uncharacterizable however, there’s plenty about it that makes it recognizable still. To start, it’s one of Foster’s most straightforward records to date – melodically speaking. With last year’s excellent Blood Rushing, Foster embarked on a more linear path with her songwriting that managed to maintain her unique identity while crafting immensely more accessible songs. She continues that tradition with I’m A Dreamer – these are beautiful, relatively straightforward (for Foster) tunes. She still sings like she’s not conforming to anyone’s expectations but her own, but in this case she’s provided enough X’s on the map for us to easily follow. Through the record’s ten songs Foster’s melodies are graceful and inviting, and her poetic lyricism connects with the listener on an intimate basis. It’s a connection that is based necessarily more on feeling than point blank interpretation. Foster, even when she sounds like she’s baring her soul, still remains cloaked in mystery. After all, she is a dreamer.
I’m A Dreamer is available now via Fire Records