As delicate as it is passionate in tone, the vocal track that Thomas Truax lays down in “Birds & Bees,” one of the key songs featured on his new album Dream Catching Songs (out this coming March everywhere indie music is available), is both surreally evocative and blunt, leaving us nowhere to run from the flood of emotions we’re encountering. He has the help of Budgie and his drum machine Mother Superior, but let’s be honest – beats are hardly the main draw in this performance.
Instrumentally speaking, the songs “The Anomalous Now,” “Dream Catching Song,” and “A Little More Time” are some of the more rousing alternative tunes I’ve had the pleasure of taking a look at lately, but they don’t overshadow the other content on this LP at all. There’s a strong sense of melodic integrity in Dream Catching Songs that I just haven’t been able to locate among the top-charting records coming out of the underground in 2023, and whether it be the simplicities of “The Fisherman’s Wishing Well Prayer” or the heavenly harmony construct of “A Wonderful Kind of Strange,” it’s never pumped up by inorganic soundboard frills.
Beyond the dirty string play that tracks like “Everything’s Going to be All Right” and “Free Floaters” are built upon, Budgie’s percussion in the stylish “Big Bright Marble” and slow-rolling “Birds & Bees,” as contrasting as it is between the two songs, plays as big a role in upping the chill-factor in this album as any of the melodic components do. Thomas Truax has never been much of a one-dimensional artist, but here, I think he wanted to make a concerted effort to reestablish himself as a singer/songwriter more interested in self-expression than he is in sonic efficiency, which is quite refreshing amid the modern indie music climate for sure.
There’s a little more polish on “Origami Spy Arrives in Paper Boat” and “The Fisherman’s Wishing Well Prayer” than I would normally like, but I can appreciate the attention to detail that was paid to almost every composition on this record. There’s not a stitch of muddiness for us to look past in songs like “Everything’s Going to be All Right” and “A Wonderful Kind of Strange,” and while the intertwining vocals and guitar part in “Birds & Bees” feels like a singular force to be reckoned with, we’re always able to determine where one end of the harmony is starting and the other is digging in its roots.
I wasn’t very familiar with the collective discography of Thomas Truax before getting into Dream Catching Songs thanks to a pre-release copy of its ten-song tracklist just recently, but I can say that I plan on following his output a little more closely in the future. Dream Catching Songs doesn’t necessarily change the game for all of alternative music and its many stewards, but with regards to the alternative scene, I think it could wind up being one of the more important releases to hit record store shelves in 2023.