Seth Mulder & Midnight Run started out in a most inauspicious manner, perfecting their chops at the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Notably, the venue has provided a stepping stone for any number of outfits and ensembles over the years, but for Mulder and company, it was a decidedly appropriate launching pad for a career destined for greater glories. With three albums to their credit, a 2020 nomination for the IBMA Momentum Band of the Year award, and an extensive touring schedule encompassing a remarkable 200 dates a year, the quintet — currently consisting of Mulder on mandolin and vocals, Colton Powers on banjo and vocals, guitarist and vocalist Ben Watlington, fiddler Max Silverstein, and bassist and vocalist Max Etling — have ascended to the upper tiers of today’s younger bluegrass elite.
With their new album, In Dreams I Go Back, the band displays an exuberance and enthusiasm bereft of posturing or pretense. As the title implies, Mulder’s ties to his Appalachian origins are never far from the surface, whether shared in the determined sound of The Mountains Are Calling, the effusive energy found in Back to the Carolinas, the rapid-fire revelry of Carolina Line, or the longing lament that comes to further fruition through the sway and shimmer of In Dreams I Go Back. That said, Mulder doesn’t settle for idle introspection. In Dreams I Go Back denounces the unfettered development that’s blemished the landscape of his old home, while transforming an idyllic landscape into just another plowed over piece of property. The lonely lament, Picture of Me Without You, is the epitome of a heartbroken break-up ballad, while the gospel-tinged harmonies of My God Will Set Me Free make no mistake about the faith and reverence that underscores their intents.
Ultimately then, In Dreams I Go Back serves as an album of the ages, one that confirms Mulder & Midnight Run’s prolific prowess while also serving as a connection to a time and place that sadly seems to exist only in our memories. Happily then, those dreams are revived here with both passion and purpose.