By Ian Bremner
“His most personal record yet” is a common music critic’s trope when describing a change of pace for an artist known for specific qualities. In fact, you could probably get a good idea of Jonathan Wilson’s music by reading reviews for his last record, Fanfare, in which he is described as not only a disciple, but a torch carrier for the Laurel Canyon folk sound. Despite his generation, his contemporaries include Jackson Browne, Tom Petty and Neil Young. Though some of the comparisons still ring true, Wilson has further distanced himself from ANY comparison for that matter. What makes his latest, Rare Birds, so personal, is the fact that each song is a microcosm of the expanse of Wilson’s musical clout and trade.
Whether you refer to Fanfare, his first record Desert Raven or his latest, Rare Birds, Wilson’s solo material derives from an entirely unique source which pulls from his own distinct palette including his extensively impressive history as a producer, network of highly talented artists and physical environment.
Rare Birds shows and plays like an artist and a man using the most of every instrument in his disposable. On it, strings and synths live in harmony with a cool, California-confidence underbelly throughout. It turns out being the go-to producer in the Los Angeles hills has paid off in creative exploration. Wilson pulls from everything in his arsenal including the acoustics of Dawes, the heavy drones of Lana Del Rey, the grandiose instrumentation of Father John Misty and the psychedelic waves of Roger Waters, all of whom Wilson has produced for and played with.
Nearly every song on Rare Birds pushes 7 minutes, but even the 5 minute tunes seem to linger well beyond that. Wilson has the innate ability to tell an entire story arch within a song, often times pushing together two or three different melodies and tempos. Most artists would make two or three songs, but Wilson finds a way to connect them all as one. There are certainly a few standout tracks, but the entire hour and 18 minute runtime of Rare Birds is one trippy experience of sound and feeling.
Listen to Rare Birds via spotify
There’s A Light
Full album stream of Rare Birds via youtube