Jim Campilongo’s tenth album is a stark and intimate portrait of an artist at the peak of his powers. Augmented by two acoustic tracks (“Suppose” and “One Mean Eye”), Dream Dictionary is a somber record filled with bite, strangled note selection, and tortured twang.
Campilongo’s band features bassist Chris Morrissey and drummer Josh Dion. Norah Jones guests on the haunting Ray Charles song “Here I Am,” while the rest of the album departs from 2010’s Orange with its use of space and darkness.
“Cock And Bull Story” sets the temperature with desolate chord melodies, crashing inversions, and rock-samba drum-and-bass grooves. With “The Past Is Looking Brighter” and “Heaven Is Creepy,” you realize this isn’t background music; it’s a heartfelt confession from a friend.
“Tony Mason” is a quirky composition that displays Campilongo’s wry sense of humor, while the soulful intimacy of the title track, “Alana,” and “Manic Depression” demand your complete undivided attention. “Nang Nang” and the whimsical “Pie Party” dip into Campilongo’s Jimmy Bryant extrapolations, and his acoustic duet with Steve Cardenas on “One Mean Eye” reveals a window into the soul of a true artist.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s February ’13 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.