Jonathan Wilson, The Scala, London
Wednesday 01 February 2012
“Love it is an apple core, before
the fruit was beautiful, now it is a circle, life and death a circle, the circle
is a cadence,” Jonathan Wilson maintains on the languid hippie anthem “Gentle
Spirit”. You dig? He digs us. He tells us so.
Wilson, his hair drooping down like a basset hound, is a singer-songwriter born out of his time – that time being early 1970s California. He sings about nature, gently berates the bourgeoisie and celebrates living “wild and free”. If, in a dark room, you squeeze your eyes shut and crank up the central heating very high you can even imagine that you’re lounging supine in Laurel Canyon when listening to his gorgeous album Gentle Spirit. It’s less easy picking up that blissful vibe on a freezing cold night in King’s Cross. However, the impressive Wilson earnestly tries his best, replicating and sometimes bettering the golden-hued loveliness of his album.
Wilson, born in North Carolina, has been around for a while, producing for the likes of Bonnie Prince Billy and the US folk-rock band Dawes, playing on Jenny Lewis and Vetiver records and jamming in his Californian pad with Wilco and Jakob Dylan. The 37-year-old tried to release Frankie Ray in 2007, but due to some legal problems it was only released on iTunes. So Gentle Spirit was his first official release last year, and it’s a suitably generous (over 70 minutes long, with most of the 13 songs touching seven minutes) record. And there’s lots of languorous wigging out tonight; at times Wilson and his accomplished band resemble Captain Beefheart or Lynyrd Skynyrd cranking it up on The Old Grey Whistle Test.
At times, they stray perilously close to prog-rock self-indulgence and some of the hippie sentiments (“Modern world a nasty mystery, turn it round, turn it round/ Natural world she needs our energy,” he spouts on “Waters Down”) are hard to stomach but a lot of his material is also transcendentally lovely; particularly the ode to mellowness “Can We Really Party Today?” and the exquisite “Desert Raven” (“The raven who flies through the desert sky is wiser than you or me... the desert raven, he has poetry”) – which recalls the likes of David Crosby, Neil Young, Gary Higgins and Jackson Browne, who put in a special appearance at Wilson’s first London gig last year. Unfortunately, not tonight, though. It hardly matters as the audience politely whoop and holler to Wilson’s cockle-warming harmonies. We dig it.
Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'music
Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?
- 2 Stamford Hill council removes 'unacceptable' posters telling women which side of the road to walk down
- 3 Kim Kardashian 'naked pictures' leaked on 4chan weeks after Jennifer Lawrence 'The Fappening' scandal
- 4 Matthew Miller: American sentenced to hard labour in North Korea 'wanted to be Snowden II'
- 5 Iranian blogger found guilty of insulting Prophet Mohammad on Facebook sentenced to death
Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea's 'Booty' music video is just a load of butts
Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written
Friends 20th anniversary: The highs and lows of the cast's careers since TV series ended in 2004
Friends 20th anniversary: Six things we wouldn't have without influential comedy series
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish referendum results: Cross-party consensus collapses amid Tory-Labour spat on the 'English question'
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
Portuguese academic says British are 'filthy, violent and drunk'