Album Reviews

J.D. Wilkes

Fire Dream

Artist:     J.D. Wilkes

Album:     Fire Dream

Label:     Fat Possum Records

Release Date:     02.17.2018


J.D. Wilkes has released Fire Dream, already sure to be one of the more interesting albums of 2018. Drawing deep from Appalachian springs and gypsy wells, Wilkes mashes roots to conjure sonic magic. “There’s bluegrass and hillbilly songs, but also blues, jazz, old time fiddle music, jug band music, and even swamp rock,” says Wilkes.

Recorded at Delta-Sonic Sound in Memphis, Tennessee with producers Bruce Watson, Jimbo Mathus, and Dr.Sick of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, the CD begins with the off-kilter klezmer of “Fire Dream.” About the title Wilkes says, “That came from a friend of mine who sees dreams in fires.” “Down In The Hidey Hole” sounds something like Tom Waits doing rock steady with horns while “Moon Bottle” is a mysterious minor swing with a Cuban feel. “Hobos Are My Heroes” begins with plucky violin akin to Roma maestros Taraf de Haïdouks and employs a melody line reminiscent of the classic blues tune “The Last Kind Words.” Wilkes shifts to a major key with rousing Cajun fiddles on “Wild Bill Jones” and gets almost spaghetti western on “Walk Between The Raindrops.” “Starlings, Ky” evokes a whiskey fueled pastor leading a musical sermon while “Bible, Candles, and a Skull” features saloon like piano that dissolves into the twinkling of a music box. “Rain and Snow” is an old standard brought back to life with banjo and snare drum. The CD closes with “That’s What They Say” an odd piano waltz.

Fire Dream flickers between light and shadow and is full of surprises. Its eclecticism defies easy description and keeps the listener guessing. “There’s a lot of stories and a lot of mysteries being revealed in these songs, and that provides its own kind of animation. That’s what I love about this record and this music…it moves.”

Stay tuned for an in-depth interview with J.D.Wilkes coming soon.

— Mike Cobb


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