It's easy to mistake Maxwell Hughes's furious output on the acoustic guitar as the work of multiple players. Through percussive taps on wood, dense and dizzying fingerpicking and a two-handed approach to tapping, Hughes coaxes every possible sound out of the instrument. That majestic sound is the most consistently impressive element of Only in Dreams, a collection of twelve (largely) instrumental tracks. Apart from a spoken-word poem on the final, aptly named "Track 12" and a guest appearance by Nathan Lindzey on "String Theory," the album consists of Hughes and his guitar. From chord structures and melodies that summon the work of the best roots, folk, blues and bluegrass players to impossibly speedy runs and riffs that are both eerie and evocative, Hughes shows a level of mastery on par with guitar legends like John Fahey. While Only in Dreams may be a bit guitar-heavy for the casual listener, it's a rare treat for any serious fan of the instrument.
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