A Few Minutes with… Reese Fulmer on his Debut album, “It’s All a Dream.”
SARATOGA SPRINGS – While it’s true the historic venue, Caffe Lena, has served as a miniature pantheon for live music during the course of its existence, as of late it also seems to be home to some pretty damned talented songwriters. Recently, we at Nippertown were pleased to hear one of Lena’s own, Carolyn Shapiro’s record, and we are now beyond thrilled to have gotten our hands on another release. This time, we checked out Reese Fulmer’s debut album, It’s All a Dream. I can say hands down this is – to be put simply – some of the best damned work I’ve heard all year.
The opening and title track, “It’s All a Dream,” begins with a very contemplative fingerpicked acoustic guitar intro. As the vocals enter, more of the band joins the foray. The vocals reminiscent of such acts akin to Iron & Wine; it’s a great track to put your mind in a mellowing sort of mood. As the song progresses, we hear a cello enter the mix, soon joined by a violin. These opposite ends of string instrumentation, in terms of register and timbre, add quite nicely to the overall feel of the song. Throughout the piece, the instrumentation keeps building, including but not limited to, a clarinet part near the end of the song! A truly beautiful piece that demonstrates Fulmer’s song arranging abilities, this track serves as a great intro for what’s to come.
Though it is the shortest tune on the record, Reese wastes no time in delivering his story in track two, “When You See Me Coming.” The blend of acoustic and electric guitar on this track is extremely well-executed. While it is straightforward, that doesn’t by any means make it uninteresting. The blending on this track just further adds to the ingenuity that took place on this album. As there is great interplay among instruments on this particular track, so aren’t there also fascinating mixes of instruments on the latter half of the album, as well.
For example, the pedal steel that floats throughout track three, “Looking For My Sweetheart,” manages to play off the violin that we hear lilting in the track. Throughout the song, the pedal steel arrangement found each tasteful spot to fill and did so – in the mind of this listener – with perceptible ease. The last track, “Freight Train, Where Have You Gone,” was the first time I heard a saxophone and dobro play back and forth with one another. During many times in this track, it feels as if there’s a call-and-response going on between these two instruments.
One of the most noticeable features in this record is not only Reese’s ability to write, and deliver compellingly solid acoustic guitar parts, but also the voice with which he sings. There’s never a time where he seems to push or dare to take chances with his range – each song exists fairly comfortably within one octave, or so – but anything more than that would have felt odd and out of place. With vocals that felt relaxed, and delivered in a way that is captivating, along with such a display of skilled arranging, not only is this album amazing, but it is surely a great way for Reese to kick off his career as a recording artist. For anyone interested in folk genres, I highly recommend this album. It was my pleasure to get a chance to sit down with Fulmer this Saturday and discuss the album, as well as other topics. Continue reading below to catch the interview, and be sure to follow the link at the end of the article to listen to the album, rather than just read what I have to say about it!
Lucas Garrett: It’s good to hear from you Reese! Thanks for taking the time to sit down with me tonight. So, you released your debut album. How’s that feel? Tell us a bit about that process!
Reese Fulmer: It feels great! And a little surreal. I’ve spent the last 3 years surrounded by all these world class artists at Lena’s just kind of soaking up their music and their passion for the work, and now to be able to share my own original songs and take a step into that world is really special. I feel like I never made a decision to start writing, it just started coming out and I couldn’t help it, so to now have a legitimate studio production of some of the first songs that came out is very validating as an artist.
LG: There’s a lot going on in this record, some of which I’m just simply not used to hearing on folk records. How did the songs’ arrangement come about? Was it an organic process, or trial and error?
RF: To be honest, I don’t think of myself as a folk musician. I think one of the best parts of the evolution of Caffe Lena as a venue is that the programming is incredibly diverse, and I’ve been absorbing all sorts of sounds and musical textures. It’s really all just music, and the boxes are drawn by the commercial structure on top of all of that because it’s easier to sell products that way. I hope all my music making decisions are made with the same freedom I had on this record, just feeling out the right sound and not worrying about the rest. Going into the studio with these I had almost all of the arrangements roughly mapped out in my head just as a vision for each song, and Chris was amazing at supplementing those ideas and nudging me further. I gave vague sort of vibe-oriented instructions, and he translated that into specific music language for our session players. There was nothing we asked for and then didn’t use.
LG: It’s really nice to see you on the other side of the gate, so-to-speak. When I’ve played there, you’ve always been amazing at facilitating things. Now that you’ve put this out, how are you planning promoting the album?
RF: One of the biggest advantages I think I have from my time at Lena’s is coming to understand the industry and the ecosystem of independent music. I’ve gotten to have so many conversations with emerging songwriters and agents and managers about their career path and how they’re going about cultivating audiences for their music. I’m aiming for radio play, streaming playlists, listening rooms, opening sets, festivals with the full band, and immediately trying to expand my range and get outside the local area.
LG: Lastly, is there anything I may have missed that you’d like to talk about?
RF: This EP has four of my earliest works, but I’ve been writing a ton, especially in the last 18 months. My writing really turned a corner during my time in relative isolation, while I continued to have the constant musical inspiration working our live streams at Lena’s. I have a full length album’s worth of new songs. I also have a ridiculously talented group of guys playing live with me now, going by Reese Fulmer & The Carriage House Band, and I’m hoping to bring them out as much as I can and eventually get them back in the studio.
LG: Thank you again, and good luck with your debut release, Reese!
RF: Thank you, Lucas! I appreciate the thoughtful questions and attention to detail in the review of my music. Loving your new tune as well!