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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jonathan Wilson - California Dreaming, 1 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Gentle Spirit (Audio CD)
On his second album North Carolina native Jonathan Wilson has produced a startlingly accurate piece of musical archaeology by uncovering a lost vibe from 1970s Laurel Canyon and tapping directly into the laid-back Californian aesthetic of singers like James Taylor, Jackson Browne and Neil Young. "Gentle Spirit" builds upon that legacy in a meaningful and progressive way and like the music of contemporaries such as Bon Iver, Fleet Foxes and Will Oldham it whittles away at your musical sensibilities and very occasionally gently beats them into total submission. That said at 13 tracks on a double album size disc with many songs stretching over 8 minutes it is a very long and languid album requiring a saintlike degree of patience and perseverance plus the right ambience to fully appreciate the best of these songs and equally discard the worse (albeit most are excellent).

There are tracks which standout from first listen not least the stunning eight minute tour de force "Desert Raven" which reminds you of the band America at their best and which is made for watching the light go down over a sun drenched Californian sunset. Its that peerless West Coast soft rock that used to turn mere musicians into uber rich white powder sniffing ego maniacs languishing from achieving millions of album sales. When it comes to the gently rolling acoustic "Ballad of the pines" you can almost hear the wind chimes and Wilson's hushed environmental storytelling vocals are perfect. Hardly surprising then that the album also contains an excellent nine minute song entitled "Natural Rhapsody" which starts off sounding like a mix of Radiohead and "Tomorrow never knows" but settles into an almost Pink Floyd style lament infused by liquidly guitar lines alia Jerry Garcia and a dreamy vocal by Wilson. You will either love its charm or if you don't get it will probably bore you senseless. The 10 minute plus "Valley of the Silver moon" recalls a Neil Young "slower than slow" guitar coda and some good vocals while the much shorter surreal acoustic blues of "Can we really party today" is strangely enticing and immediately recalls the work of David Crosby. It is here we also discover the touchstone since "Gentle Spirit" does owe a huge debt to Crosby's trippy masterwork "If I could only remember my name" a superb evocation of Californian counter culture packed with great songs. True there are songs on here that Wilson could have left to languish on the cutting room floor such as the slightly silly "Don't give your heart to a rambler" which is mercifully short and "Woe is me" which is too long and dreary. You can however forgive him these indulgences particularly when it comes to songs as good as the spacey title track or the excellent "Magic is everywhere" and the nice haunting acoustics of "Waters Down".

In the final analysis it would be easy to ridicule some of the cringe worthy idealism contained in the lyrics which are infused with statements of the "natural world needs our energy" variety. Yet there is enough musical invention and innovation in "Gentle Spirit" to hold your attention and draw you back for further listens. Finally before that ubiquitous Amazon insult "the kings new clothes" is bandied around please re-read the health warnings contained in this review for like the work of Joanna Newsom the songs of Jonathan Wilson will attract admirers and detractors in equal measure. Ultimately hat's off to man for the sheer scale of ambition contained therein which remarkably he has now exceeded on his new 2013 album "Fanfare" which is a triumph of cosmic Americana.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Headline and 20 words required, 5 Dec 2013
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This review is from: Gentle Spirit (Audio CD)
All I want to do is give this magical record 5 stars. Saw Jonathan Wilson in Norwich last Monday, and he and his band are excellent. That's it, can I go now?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good album, 28 Mar 2014
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This review is from: Gentle Spirit (Audio CD)
I heard a Jonathan Wilson track on the radio which I liked and because I'd never heard of him, investigated on Amazon. Ended up taking a chance and buying both the Fanfare and Gentle Spirit albums. Wasn't disappointed. For a middle aged rock fan like me, it's good to hear some new stuff in what I would call old style 70's type rock, that varies from gentle stuff to slightly heavier (this is not hard rock but more reminiscent in places of prog rock). Proper original songs by proper musicians - some good riffs - bits that remind you of other bands- it's all there. Glad I bought it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars electric rustic,excellent, 14 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Gentle Spirit (Audio CD)
excellent album folky/rocky/alt country rock wonderfully produced with amazing guitar tones,took a few plays to get the retro point but well worth it,
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great Music - enough said!, 1 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Gentle Spirit (Audio CD)
I bought "Fanfare" first after reading a great review in of all things "The Readers' Digest"!! So pleased with Fanfare I bought this -his previous recording, - great Cd very pleased, recommended!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Gentle Spirit- Jonathon Wilson, 16 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Gentle Spirit (Audio CD)
I bought the album fanfare the album first and then this one, wasn't dissapointed really good album especially if you just want to chill out!!! Worth adding that this guys music has a bit of a different vibe about it, well worth checking out.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Chillied acoustic perfection, 14 Oct 2013
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This review is from: Gentle Spirit (Audio CD)
Wanna drift away on a cushion of acoustic perfection, then this is the chap for you. Sits well besides his contempories!
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Gentle Spirit
Gentle Spirit by Jonathan Wilson (Audio CD - 2012)
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