Review – “Dreams of Running” – Margaret Currie

dreams of runningreviewed by Michael Thomas

Sometimes the most beautiful folk music comes from the most spare conditions. Margaret Currie knows that less is more, and only has one other player along for the ride with her: her own family member, Michael Feuerstack.

Even when he contributes, it’s still so easy to hear each individual part of the song float in and out. Whether it’s a gentle line of electric guitar, the moan of the pedal steel or just Feuerstack singing a few lines, it’s all fleeting. It adds that delicate touch to Currie’s beautiful songs.

The title of the record is referenced in the first two songs. The first line of opener “Wind in the Wires” has Currie singing of dreaming of someone running. She takes her time with each phrase, allowing each word to slowly build up an air of mystery to the song. This is one example of Feuerstack’s subtle work behind the boards; as she sings of wind, pedal steel comes in as though the wind has just gusted for a few seconds. In “Giant” we hear of someone uncomfortable in his skin, unable to comfortably navigate life. He, too, dreams of running (along a riverbank). Currie holds out her hand and invites him to “Come and sit here, weary giant/Feel the grass beneath your skin.”

When she wants to, Currie can build up a little world around a character. “Jessie” is introduced with much specificity: he lives on a second-floor apartment behind a corner store, likes to watch the sun rise and to sleep on the fire escape so he can count the stars. It’s a touching song, with no more embellishment than Currie’s voice and guitar.

Other times, Currie addresses an unnamed “you.” In “Give Me Your Dark,” perhaps the eeriest-sounding album on the album, a ghostly wail of pedal steel lurks behind Currie’s voice. As she gets to the chorus, Feuerstack joins in gentle on backup vocals. In the song, she sings of wanting to accept all of a person: not just the good parts. In closer “Bell,” the “you” is like a bell that cannot ring—hollow and empty. The words of this “you” still ring in Currie’s head, regardless.

There lots of other beautiful, quiet moments on the record. Currie sings of receiving a letter at the beginning of “Heaven,” when she says “I read it by the neon glow/The words you wrote, they left me empty/Like someone carried off my soul.” Even when she sings “Don’t keep them from my door, let them come” in “When the Wolves Come,” it also feels quiet.

That exceptional quietness makes for a nice record to start off 2018. Get away from the noise and spend some time with Currie’s songs.

Top Tracks: “Dreams of Running”; “Jessie”

Rating: Proud Hoot (Really Good)

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