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NEW ALBUM: Jonathan Wilson - Rare Birds

[Image: MI0004375842.jpg?]

Track Listing:

  1. Trafalgar Square
  2. Me
  3. Over the Midnight
  4. There's a Light
  5. Sunset Blvd.
  6. Rare Birds
  7. 49 Hair Flips
  8. Miriam Montague
  9. Loving You
  10. Living with Myself
  11. Hard to Get Over
  12. Hi-Ho the Righteous
  13. Mullholland Queen
Forget Laurel Canyon – Jonathan Wilson has gone off on a decidedly trippy psychedelic tangent. Wasn’t too sure how the album would pan out at first, having first heard the single “Over the Midnight”. While I think I understand that the tinned drums are a deliberate construct, holding everything together, I can't help finding them a tad annoying. They do provide a persistent anchor for the great mass of swirling twirling dreamy melodies circling around them and appear on “Loving You” as well, where they seem less annoying and kinda fit. Along with regular instruments, he uses quite a bit of synth on this one; I like his piano work and my ears pricked up to the lap steel guitar and some rather nice strings. 
Despite being fairly far removed from Gentle Spirit, etc. in musical style, Wilson is still very much inclined to explore themes relating to spirituality and there are a lot of mentions of celestial bodies and beings, as well as references to God and Jesus, light, space, feelings, oneness, love, the pain of relationships gone south, humanity, divinity, mother earth and so on; I like that he remains true to his essence (or to what he is portraying as his essence) – so disconcerting when people change tack. 

It would appear that his recent touring tenure with Mr Waters has not been too terribly bad an influence  Tongue  – he’s taken the good things, I think (I have always heard odd references to Pink Floyd in Wilson’s work – particularly on this, from Fanfare …, even his effing, which is confined to one song, is used in context and he is inclined to chide on a personal level, rather than being overtly political – all very gently  and kindly executed which again speaks to what I fondly imagine to be his general demeanour – he’s an idealistic hippie at heart. His lyrics are sometimes surprising and not that easy to fathom because they are inclined to be on the esoteric side, but then having to think about what you are hearing is not necessarily a negative!
Production is impeccable of course - he’s known and respected for that.  
Quote from the website of his label, Bella Union -

Jonathan says of the video, “One day, one of my musical heros Laraaji came into my studio to just experiment and record some music. I had the ditty ‘Loving You’ lying around, (it was a song I wrote from a feeling or inflection of a word I heard John Lennon emote in one of his songs) and I then put down a simple little drum machine beat along with the piano and vocal that you hear now. Laraaji then beautifully chanted over the song, one take … then he played his cosmic zither, undulated gracefully with his ipad, and truly shaped the scope of the track. I then added a specific drum/cymbal treatment used throughout Rare Birds, my funky Crumar bass, Lana Del Rey, a few other things and boom that was the genesis of the new album Rare Birds, that song set the tone.”

Here it is ...
Aside from Laraaji and Lana Del Rey, Krystle Warren and Josh Tillman (Father John Misty) also appear as guest vocalists.
From the driving (when it gets going) vintage sounding opener “Trafalgar Square” to the nod to country on “Hi Ho the Righteous”, Wilson has given us a lot to chew on! Takes a few hearings to orientate oneself, I found, and I’m still not entirely convinced by the drum machines, however, altogether, at approximately 80 minutes running time, it is a nice meaty listen (except in this case I suspect lentils might be the protein of choice, lol!). 

Some lyrics from one of my preferred tracks (for now, that is Rolleyes ) …
"There is inspiration
In everyone you meet
Every human being on the street
They all sing a special song
And when you sing along
You are this for them
One note will start the feeling"
And the track itself – “There’s a Light” … (been trying to figure out what this reminds me of and I think it's T Rex).

"The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us." ~ Bill Watterson
Had a listen to this track you posted Ruby but it does not really do anything for me. I find it quite bland and pedestrian?!!? Sorry, just my opinion.
'The purpose of life is a life of purpose' - Athena Orchard.
You’re not alone. Some of the reviews I read were less than complimentary about it too!

I’s not really representative of the whole, but in any event, no apology necessary – to each their own. Smile
"The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us." ~ Bill Watterson

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