Jonathan Wilson is on a roll. After the sublime 'Rare Birds' from 2018, he continues to shoot the breeze with considerable style and grace.
Aside from his solo work, the LA-based artist and producer has worked with Father John Misty, Laura Marling and Dawes. He spent most of 2017-18 on Roger Waters’ epic US+THEM tour as musical director, guitarist and vocalist.
His laid back dreamy Californian outlook is unmistakable but this is injected with some fiddle-driven country hokum in three high energy party tracks : So Alive, In Heaven Making Love and El Camino Real.
Hearing these tunes it comes as no surprise to learn that the album was recorded in Nashville. At Cowboy Jack Clement’s Sound Emporium Studio, Wilson gathered together a group of top-notch musicians that include Mark O’Connor (fiddle), Kenny Vaughan (guitar) Dennis Crouch (bass), Russ Pahl (pedal steel), Jim Hoke (harmonica, woodwinds), Jon Radford (drums), and Drew Erickson (keyboards).
In a departure from his previous meticulous working methods, everything was recorded live with very few overdubs before being mixed at Jackson Browne’s Groovemasters Studio. It was co-produced by Wilco's Pat Sansone. The result is a record that glides along effortlessly over the course of its 14 tracks.
It's an album filled with rich melodies and good vibes. The peaceful, easy feeling means that there's no room for haters. "May truth evermore find a way to your door" Wilson sings on New Home and even a track called Enemies is full of calm understanding.
The real magic happens when he taps into his gentle hippie spirit in more personal songs dedicated to family, friends and ex-lovers. This comes in the soaring, pastoral beauty of the opening track - Just For Love - with a mellow Astral Weeks-style flute and string arrangement. '69 Corvette is a gorgeous homesick blues piece ("Been in this hotel room too long") and, best of all, Oh Girl is a touching song of a relationship drifting apart that celebrates the good moments rather than dwelling on the bad memories - "Didn't we have us some times?"
"Would you like to come to my house and play records and drink the rest of this Korean Tea?" is the invitation on the final track. This is an offer no serious music lover should refuse.