- 11 Mar 20
Bringing It All Back Home
Jonathan Wilson’s sprawling and often quite brilliant 2018 album Rare Birds threw everything at the wall to see what might stick, and towards the end included a song called ‘Hi Ho The Righteous’ that kinda, sorta updated what Roger McGuinn and Gram Parsons were doing during their all-too-brief partnership back in 1968, only with a lot more psychedelics. Taking a break from L.A. Wilson has relocated to Nashville for Dixie Blur and a further trip into what Parsons used to refer to as “cosmic American music”. Fiddles and pedal steels are brought out to the front as Wilson reconnects with the music he was reared on.
As well as helping out Father John Misty and Dawes, Wilson’s main day job is as musical director for Roger Waters, and there’s plenty of evidence of that here too. Imagine the Floyd recording one of their later albums in Tennessee and you’d in the right ballpark.
The gentle sway of the opening cover of psychedelic enthusiasts, Quicksilver Messenger Service’s ‘Just for Love’ is carried on woodwinds, ‘69 Corvette’ remembers Wilson’s childhood and his father over a plucked guitar, and the line “remember to tell them you love them every time” should move everyone to pick up the phone to call the folks. The pedal steel whine of ‘New Home’ would bring a tear to a glass eye before the “la la la” vocal breaks through, ‘So Alive’ picks things up a bit, allowing a light toe-tap, and the hoe-downy ‘Heaven Making Love’ keeps it going. ‘O’ Girl’ wouldn’t have shamed prime-time Elton John before giving it a bit of Wilson – both Brian and Dennis - in the middle, and ‘Pirates’, ‘Enemies’, and ‘Fun For The Masses’ all drift by in a perfectly pleasant manner, and you are sternly advised to stick around until the lovely closer, ‘Korean Tea’
It does go on a bit, and suffers from a slight lack of variety - although this becomes less noticeable the more spins you give it, as the songs start to take root - but there’s no faulting the man’s ambition or talent, and it’s all beautifully put together. If mid-paced Pink Floyd is your thing, you could do a lot worse, but give yourself plenty of time to absorb it all.