Intimate Dream – Wonderful Thing
Intimate Dream, a band in name only, is brainchild of singer/songwriter and guitarist Hugh Faulds. Faulds employs a revolving cast of top notch musicians to help him realize his musical goals and the project’s latest release, Wonderful Thing, attests to the rightness of his vision. In some ways, the six song collection plays like an affectionate look back at Faulds’ musical loves. There is pastoral looking back, bullets of pure rock and roll aimed straight for the groin, and even an acapella number that shows off Faulds’ love and familiarity with vocal harmonies. Intimate Dream aspires to their band name; at every turn on Wonderful Things are songs that look to catch up listeners in their web and cast a spell over them akin to a dream.
The title track invokes the aforementioned nostalgia strongest. “Wonderful Thing” is an airy, expansive track with proper space afforded to each instrument. There are a number of beautifully melodic flourishes packed into the song’s relatively brief duration, but there’s never any sense that Faulds’ songwriting is attempting to force things. Instead, the opener flows with impressively natural elegance. Everything sounds like it happens because it’s supposed to. “In Your Head” takes a virtual 180 degree turn and introduces listeners to Intimate Dream’s rugged side. If it isn’t clear from the first song that Faulds is a distinctive player, his guitar work on “In Your Head” will put all doubts to rest. “Mine Alone” has some of the feel one might associate with classic 80’s ballads, particularly with its strong melodic content, but there’s quite a bit more substance to this than what one remembers from that era.
“Space Girl” has a memorable groove and a plethora of lightly applied post-production effects. Despite this, the song has a live, “on the floor” quality and the loose, yet confident, performance overcomes any quibbles about cliché. While Faulds’ pen certainly isn’t unreeling Bob Dylan quality poetry in song, this song benefits from the direct and uncomplicated content found in earlier fare. “Slow Down” is probably the album’s best candidate for the label “tribute”, but even its approximation of golden oldie rock and roll doesn’t ever dip so deeply into imitation that its slavish. As before, the song conveys great affection for the style and you can hear it in the vocals and playing alike. Wonderful Thing ends with the title track revamped as a doo-wop style tune and performed without instrumental accompaniment. It’s stylistically a little out of step with the rest of the album, but an interesting and revealing moment.
Minnesota has produced many fine talents over the years and there’s no reason to provide a list. With Intimate Dream, Minnesotan Hugh Faulds makes his first foray into the arena and proves that his promise recalls the earliest efforts of those great musicians for its bravery, imagination, and unvarnished love of music. We’ll be hearing more from this fine songwriter and guitarist and it will likely keep getting better from here.
8 out of 10 stars.