Big Legal Mess / Fat Possum
Fire Dream has iconic cover art. A banjo-plucking everyman stares into a hobos barrel fire, seeing a seductress rising from the flames. It’s a great piece of art that gives an accurate visual preview of what’s inside. J.D. Wilkes steps away from the Legendary Shack Shakers to take us on a hallucinatory walk on the underside of the American dream.
The album opens with the Tom Waits sharing a bottle of Muscatel with R. Crumb hallucination that is “Fire Dream”. It’s a club footed dance by an orchestra from a Max Fischer cartoon. In my imagination, I see the fire goddess from the cover dancing with ghosts and demons. The song is wonderfully warped, timeless and out of time.
“Hoboes Are My Heroes” takes me to another time. There isn’t much romance about homelessness these days, but there was a time when the Hobo was a romantic figure, free to travel and roam the nation hopping freight trains and living in camps down by the switching yard. Wilkes brings that fantasy to life with this song.
I also love the mariachi blues of “Walk Between the Raindrops”. The tune is a soft shuffle, a wistful ode to doing something impossible. No one can walk between raindrops, at least not in this reality. Then again, Wilkes is creating his own reality as he goes. Fire Dream may just be a classic of hallucinogenic Americana.