Happy Release Day Jonathan Wilson

Happy release day Jonathan Wilson! We’re delighted to share with you in its entirety his masterful third album “Rare Birds”, available now via Bella Union. The release of “Rare Birds” follows an eventful 2017, spent producing Father John Misty’s Grammy-winning Pure Comedy as well as Karen Elson’s critically acclaimed Double Roses, and touring the globe as guitarist and vocalist for Pink Floyd legend Roger Waters. His time on the road continues, with additional international dates alongside Waters and a headline tour of the U.S. and Europe. 

Although much of Rare Birds is comprised lyrically of meditations on a failed relationship and its aftermath, Wilson insists that it’s 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, 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”, he explains. More genuinely influenced by such disparate artists as Talk Talk, Arthur Russell and a ‘Sleigh Bells-meet-George Harrison kinda thing’, Wilson has made a “maximalist”, high density album more influenced by 80s British production more than anything to do with Southern California in 1970s. It’s a dynamic new approach for Wilson that calls to mind one of Peter Gabriel’s early solo albums or even mid-period Kate Bush. “This album is a hell of a lot more Trevor Horn than anything, you know, Laurel Canyon-related,” he muses. Recorded during the same timeframe he was in the studio with Roger Waters, working on Is This The Life We Really Want?, Wilson felt inclined to expand into certain psychedelic and 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.

Says Tillman, “Jonathan’s talent – “mastery” may be more apt – places him among a rarefied class of musical auteur.  You’d be hard pressed to find a comparison, or contemporary for that matter, that would do his recent work justice.”

Rare Birds is available now via Bella Union. Catch Jonathan Wilson on tour throughout the Spring of 2018.