Jonathan Wilson - Desert Raven
LCM Song Of The Day: ‘Desert Raven’ - Jonathan Wilson
Our featured track today is a great song from LA based Jonathan Wilson’s 2011 debut album ‘Gentle Spirit’. This highly acclaimed album was credited with the #4 spot on Mojo Magazine's ‘2011 Best of Albums of the Year’. It’s an excellent slice of mid 70's psych-folk with some super guitar playing and a wonderful string arrangement. It really reminds us of Israel Nash, Neil Young and CSNY. Jonathan is credited as being one of the revivers of the Laurel Canyon music scene. He is also currently on a UK and mainland Europe tour with all the details on his website. Check him out if you can.
Jonathan Wilson is very much in demand in 2017 he produced Father John Misty's Grammy nominated ‘Pure Comedy’ and touring arenas around the globe as a guitarist and vocalist for Pink Floyd legend Roger Waters (for whom he also contributed to the lauded ‘Is This The Life We Really Want?’ album.) Wilson also saw widespread acclaim heaped on Karen Elson’s sophomore LP ‘Double Roses’, which he recorded with her in Los Angeles in 2016.
In 2018 he toured worldwide with Roger Waters tour and released his own new solo album ‘Rare Birds’ in the spring. The highly anticipated album which features backing vocals from Lana Del Rey, Josh Tillman, fellow Roger Waters bandmates Lucius and an extraordinary musical gift from otherworldly Brian Eno collaborator Laraaji was released through Bella Union worldwide.
Although much of the album is comprised lyrically of meditations on a failed relationship and its aftermath, Wilson insists that ‘Rare Birds’ is not really a concept album. "It's meant more as a healing affair, a rejuvenation, a reconciliation, for others, and for me. I wanted to balance personal narrative with the need I feel for calming healing music. I think we need journeys in sound, psychedelic gossamer-winged music that includes elements consciously and purposefully to incite hope, positivity, longing, reckless abandon and regret. It's all in there."
And, for this one, music critics will need to retire the comparisons to heritage rockers and Laurel Canyon troubadours as they’re hardly useful anymore. Wilson's new sound takes a synthetic/acoustic, best-of-both-worlds analog/digital hybrid approach to achieve the complexity, sonic density and glossy hi-fi coating of ‘Rare Birds’. Heard for the first time on a Jonathan Wilson album are the sounds of synthesizers and drum machines.
"The Neil Young, CSN, Dennis Wilson and Tom Petty comparisons for the first two records were flattering, but I didn't ever really see it that way myself.” The things that Wilson had been obsessing on, and he can clearly hear the influences of, are artists like Talk Talk, Arthur Russell, maybe a Sleigh Bells-meet-George Harrison kinda thing. “I hear mostly ME actually. On this album I’m quoting from earlier versions of myself, continuing a narrative I’ve had musically since I got my first 4-track when I was thirteen. I hear the influence of my vocal coach. I hear the influence of having worked in my studio with Roger Waters for months during the same time period that I was making this record. That gave me the feeling I could expand into certain psychedelic and found sound labyrinths.” There are voices, sirens, children playing, and more enhancing spatial sounds, while musical compadres Lana Del Rey and Josh Tillman (Father John Misty) appear as backing vocalists on “Living With Myself” and “49 Hairflips”, respectively.