On I'm Only Dreaming, Eisley balance big changes with longstanding traditions. In 2015, founding members Chauntelle D'Agostino and Stacy King left to pursue their own projects, while Weston DuPree decided to no longer tour with the band. That left Sherri DuPree-Bemis and her cousin Garron DuPree as Eisley's remaining full-time members; while some musicians might decide to start fresh in a situation like this, the duo uses what could have been a crisis as inspiration to continue. Not surprisingly, many of I'm Only Dreaming's songs are about heartache and change. "I usually give up so easily," DuPree-Bemis sings on "Defeatist," and the bittersweet feelings continue on "My Best Friend," "Always Wrong," and "Brightest Fire," which are some of the most quintessentially Eisley-sounding songs here. Over the years, the band traded some of its whimsy for a more mature, singer/songwriter-influenced approach that feels even more pronounced with only DuPree-Bemis writing all of the material. While this makes for a more cohesive sound than on Currents, it also means that sometimes I'm Only Dreaming isn't quite as distinctive as previous Eisley albums; acoustic ballads like "Rabbit Hole" and "When You Fall" are pretty, but a little faceless. The band fare better when they broaden their horizons: "You Are Mine" leans into alt-rock, while the electronic and R&B influences on "Louder Than a Lion" and "Sparking" work surprisingly well. I'm Only Dreaming's brightest highlight is "A Song for the Birds," a bright guitar pop song featuring DuPree-Bemis' husband, Say Anything's Max Bemis, that feels like a sequel to their previous collaboration, Perma. Moments like this suggest that this incarnation of Eisley sound best when they're creating new traditions instead of holding onto old ones too tightly.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares