[9 September 2008]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
In the liner notes to his fifth Soltero album, You’re No Dream, Tim Howard writes that he wanted the album “to be slight and unsure, like a novice pickpocket.” The album definitely has an air of uncertainty to it. With none of the rock trappings of his previous, equally excellent Hell Train, You’re No Dream actually does carry some of the atmosphere associated with dreams: a strangeness both pretty and mysterious. The mood is richly defined and vague, crystal-clear and open. Ghosts of pop music past mingle with the musical perspective of one wandering would-be folk singer. The album sounds like we’re inside one man’s head. And the songs themselves fit that as well, with unsteady journeys of the heart a major theme. Even the most seemingly direct songs—the marriage-pondering duo “Wedding Song” and “Sinkhole”, the creepy maybe-stalker song “Prick on the Prowl”—carry a lot of questions and confusion. At one point in the album, Howard sings, “Everyone thinks that we’re OK / because they don’t hear what we don’t say.” You’re No Dream seems filled with those things unsaid, and with the sounds and silence that echo around inside our heads.