The California-based artist and producer’s solo records are well worth taking notice of, as he announces upcoming European tour.
Jonathan Wilson, with Father John Misty’s I Love You, Honeybear in 2015, has produced one of the most critically-acclaimed indie records of this past year, but he is also a remarkably talented musician, with a solo career to boot.
His 2011 release with Bella Union, Gentle Spirit, was ripe with Americana undertones, evolving effortlessly around Crosby, Stills and Nash’s legacy, as well as evoking Nick Drake at times, all the while showcasing real songwriting talent and originality. If the arrangements sound so together and attentive to detail, one must turn to the personnel: Wilson is more often than not his own backing band, yet calls on a myriad of guests, singers, musicians or other rhythm sections to beef up his sound. Although the music has a dreamy, ethereal quality to it, the lyrics deal with the hard-to-reconcile struggle between the need for inner peace, and the anger felt at one’s helplessness in the face of mankind’s suffering.
In 2013, he released Fanfare, a record maybe a little less attention-seeking, yet still very much comparable to laying flat on a kitchen floor during your first trip: some out-of-body experiences, complete with indelible moments of grace. Here the arrangements transpire maturity, as the production does. The guest star apparitions of J. Tillman (none other than Father John Misty, credited for singing ‘velvet vocal pillows’ on «Desert Trip», amongst other things), David Crosby, and Graham Nash feel like an added bonus, confirming that the sophisticated songwriting triumphs over nostalgia, or any kind of period-specific reference. Dissonant cellos and wrily-timed production effects come to punctuate the songwriter’s beautiful hooks. Although the ghosts of country music’s greats and southern jam-rock bands are never far, Wilson manages to pull us into his own harmonic universe with ease.
When one casts an eye on this often overlooked singer-songwriter’s career, one also understands that he is an essential part of modern alternative American music, having collaborated with everyone from Erykah Badu to Conor Oberst and British folk legend Roy Harper, while operating at a safe distance from the public eye. He has also been credited for reviving the musical scene of Laurel Canyon in Los Angeles by hosting jam sessions in his home with, amongst others, members of Wilco, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Van Morrison.
Don’t miss out on his (mostly northern) European tour these coming few months: Buy Tickets.
Here he is on facebook for other information: Jonathan Wilson.