Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Album Review: Jonathan Wilson - Gentle Spirit (2011)

Must admit that I was late onto this marvellous album by Jonathan Wilson (Would definitely have made my Top 50).

Born in North Carolina, 1974, Jonathan was part of short-lived band Muscadine and has an unreleased solo album Frankie Ray (2007).

But mainly, he has rubbed shoulders and aligned himself with luminaries such as Wilco, Roy Harper, Crosby, Stills & Nash, Jackson Browne, Barry Goldberg, Chris Robinson, Gary Louris, Andy Cabic, Gary Mallaber, Z Berg, Johnathan Rice;
all the while amassing a vast selection of musical instruments, building his studio "Five Star" and steadfastly waiting for a recording contract which didn't mean signing his life away.

Largely sung with hushed harmonies, the melodies hark back to LA circa late 60's and early 70's when life was unhurried.  Even the length of the tracks suggest a time when people had longer attention span.
Personally, the sassy chord progressions recall Steely Dan while hamonies bring to mind a guilty pleasure ~ England Dan & John Ford Coley!  (Please don't ask me how my mind works...)

Just when you've tagged the album Easy-listening and settled comfortably into your armchair, along comes electronic glitches which confound and trips up the hazy dream with a hint of nightmare...

Scratch beneath the surface, and you'll find complex arrangements with sudden shifts in time signatures.
In fact, some of it occasionally gets pushed to the fore and you are confronted by some serious avant-jazz
folk-psych-blues guitar noodling.

Production is always sun-drenched warm and earthy. 

Indeed, it's this beguiling tightrope push-pull which imbues the album a sense of timelessness.

Voted amongst most "Best Albums of 2011" lists:
Mojo (#4)
Uncut (#16) and also named New Artist of the Year.


Modern Classic.  8.9/10

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