Album: Jonathan Wilson, Gentle Spirit (Bella Union)

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The Independent Culture

Much will depend on what the words "Laurel Canyon" mean to you. For this is an updating of the late-'60s model of golden, folk-inflected pop so associated with that storied gulch. And a world already saturated with Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver is primed. Wilson's music is meditative, quiet, stretched. The melodies barely move, sung by a voice as soft as mousse, while tempos seldom stir above a flip-flopped stroll. Themes? Well, here are some titles: "Canyon in the Rain", "Ballad of the Pines", "Magic Everywhere", "Woe is Me". And can that be an authentic mellotron we hear on "Waters Down"? There is always a temptation with these things to play the reference game – "CS&N meet Quicksilver over veggie cutlets round at Neil's" – but that might be a way of avoiding a higher truth, which is that Gentle Spirit is impressively inert.

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