Jonathan Wilson released Fanfare in October 2013, an epic, grandiose and highly ambitious production that builds upon the success of his Bella Union debut.
With 2011’s critically-lauded Gentle Spirit, audiences worldwide were introduced to the prodigious talents of singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and unrivalled guitar hero Jonathan Wilson. Gentle Spirit’s authentic exploration and modern updating of the “Laurel Canyon sound” earned it high marks on many year-end lists, including those of MOJO (#4), Uncut (#16) and The Guardian (#28). The eagerly-awaited follow-up, Fanfare, is an even more ambitious production that instantly conjures thoughts of Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Ocean Blue.
“‘Fanfare as a word represents a fanciful showing, a bodacious movement of energy, a celebration of sound,” Wilson explains. “Something to signify an arrival, a special occasion.” In this case, it’s also the immense opening song that builds into a multilayered cinematic poem from the artist to channel the perfect love song through his piano. As a declaration of intent, it’s a powerful statement.
“From the initial idea of the record, I knew I wanted a concert Steinway piano to be the centerpiece–the beating heart–of Fanfare. I was going for this sort of “widescreen” sound, a blown out vista. I wanted strings, horns, bells, vibes, voices, solos, improvisation and a full orchestra on some of the tunes… Having that 9-foot Steinway was central to achieving the sound that I wanted.”
Fanfare was made in Los Angeles over a 9-month period. Featuring vocal and instrumental contributions from heavy friends like Graham Nash, David Crosby, Jackson Browne, Josh Tillman (aka Father John Misty), Wilco’s Patrick Sansone, Dawes’ Taylor Goldsmith and Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench from Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, the album is a celebration of friends and family. Additionally, Wilson and British folk legend Roy Harper co-wrote several songs on the record.
Sometimes Wilson seems to need a pinch to believe his good fortune: “There are an awful lot of wizards on this album. Wizards of all ages and life experiences. All these amazing voices and musicians. There is a high degree of musical prowess and pedigree here. Cross-generational musical sharing and passing down traditions is very important to me and something that must continue. This is the way you keep the Fanfare’s blowing, this is how you keep the energies interacting.”
Fanfare is out now on Bella Union