A lot of amazing music dropping in 2022 and 2023 has struggled to maintain the credibility it had at the time it first debuted, but if there’s one record I don’t predict this being said about, it’s Thomas Truax’s new collaborative LP with Mother Superior and Budgie Dream Catching Songs. The follow-up to an undeniably stunning collection of material already under his belt, Dream Catching Songs isn’t a gem because of its production style alone; on the contrary, this is an album that earns its accolades through compositional integrities too many artists fail to meet outside of the underground. Truax doesn’t hold back from us in songs like the titular cut, “The Anomalous Now,” and “Free Floaters,” instead giving us everything he can produce poetically and sonically inside of a deliberately messy full-length masterpiece.
I love the grooves in “Everything’s Going to be All Right,” “A Little More Time” and “A Wonderful Kind of Strange,” and there’s certainly an argument to be made that they frame the lyrical content better than anything else possibly could have. There’s an emotional investment in even the most understated of intricacies featured in this LP, and while it’s untrue that there haven’t been players to experiment with the depth of compositional wit Truax did here in recent times, I can’t say I’ve heard anyone touching on the passionate ground he does in Dream Catching Songs right now. It’s a very vulnerable album, but it never sounds fragile – if anything, the exact opposite. Exposure doesn’t have to equal breakable songwriting, and that’s hard to dispute after listening to this.
The punky influences over “A Wonderful Kind of Strange,” “Dream Catching Song,” “Big Bright Marble,” “Free Floaters,” and the instrumental “Origami Spy Arrives in Paper Boat” are so important in tying all of the different aesthetical componentry together in Dream Catching Songs, and to say their integration with the folk elements in the LP is seamless really wouldn’t be doing it justice. Terms like alternative rock get thrown around more liberally in 2023 than they ever have before, but this is an instance in which the music we’re hearing is as much an alternative to the mainstream contemporarily as it could be past incarnations.
Though I hadn’t listened to Dream Catching Songs until just a few days ago, I can wholeheartedly say it’s as delightful an experience for discriminating music aficionados as it has been advertised to be. In songs like “The Fisherman’s Wishing Well Prayer” and “Birds & Bees,” Thomas Truax makes a case for his being one of the most experimental singer/songwriters in his class, and while some of this content has a retro feel in constructional virtuosity, there’s scarcely a moment in the tracklist that feels explicitly old school in tone. Truax is an amazing talent, and I think that’s the one consistent narrative newcomers to his sound are going to take away from the performances included in this LP. A treat for audiences old and new alike, Dream Catching Songs is a picture of incredible musicality anyway you look at it.