BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Fans of the HBO series Boardwalk Empire will find something unerringly familiar about the vintage last century sounds of Josephine Foster’s latest, the loftily dubbed I’m a Dreamer. Given to a scholarly approach, Foster’s always been an eclectic and somewhat eccentric artist; her albums have taken her from ukulele songs of Tin Pan Alley to pure psychedelia, with children’s songs and other archival offerings tossed in between.
Nevertheless, I’m a Dreamer will likely appeal to only the narrowest audience. A collection of dainty parlor songs, it finds Foster — who once harbored aspirations of being an opera singer — warbling in an uncomfortable soprano, and sounding like she’s being abducted by the spirit of Tiny Tim. Whether it’s a swaying serenade like “Blue Roses,” a courting ballad like “Pretty Please,” a courtly lament like “No One’s Calling Your Name” or an Appalachian melody like the title tune,” Foster puts a sepia tint on her material that gives it a fanciful posture.
Despite the variety, this is a decidedly marginal set of songs, one that’s well out of sync with even the most archival Americana. It’s similar to an old family heirloom, one worth admiring, at least momentarily, but with little practicality for everyday needs.
DOWNLOAD: “No One’s Calling Your Name,” “I’m a Dreamer,” “Blue Roses”