4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Perhaps the best album you will hear all year...,
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This review is from: Fanfare (Audio CD)
From the very first minute of the title track, "Fanfare", you can tell that this is going to be a very special album indeed, as it introduces the album with an instrumental mixture reminiscent of Pink Floyd and The Eagles before exploding into a beautiful near-classical grandiose rock, resplendent with thundering, echo-laden toms and rich strings which are more Electric Light Orchestra than Crosby, Stills and Nash. It's majestic, astonishing, wonderful stuff. One thing is for sure, this second album is a different proposition than Wilson's excellent Laurel Canyon-influenced debut, "Gentle Spirit" (although the same influences are still very much present and correct) and whether you are open to a departure from that style or not will go a long way towards determining whether you will like this album or not.
I'm going to lay my cards on the table right away. I think this is a dazzling album and one of the very best albums I have heard all year. It is one of those records that demands your attention; you simply have to stop doing anything else and listen to it. One of those very special albums that very much deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the rock classics which have become household names. I'm not convinced that this will happen, as the general public's taste in music seems to be very different to mine these days, but the musicianship and creative vision on "Fanfare" is incredible, head and shoulders above some rather ordinary records by well-known names that most people seem to gush about. Had this album been released in the 1970s, exactly as it is, it would have been heralded as an important piece of work, I'm sure, but here we are in 2013 and, sadly, this beauty will only be heard by a relatively small amount of people worldwide.
There are so many excellent tracks on "Fanfare" that it is difficult to choose highlights or, indeed, favourites. It is probably best listening to it as a whole, rather than sampling individual tracks, that way you can appreciate the rich range of textures on offer here. I mentioned the magnificent title track, but virtually everything on offer here is terrific and is evidently influenced by the very best music of the seventies. "Future Vision", for example, is a superb Lennonesque ballad which almost purposely samples the different aspects of the former Beatle's solo career, including a gorgeously dirty guitar solo. The epic "Moses Pain" reminds me of Elton John's brilliant "Levon" to start with, but then expands into a tumbling country track which features not one, but two, sublime piano solos. The guitar work in "Dear Friend" is a revelation, the lyrics in the David Crosby and Graham Nash-backed piece of acoustic perfection "Cecil Taylor" dreamy and other-worldly, the mesmerising "Illumination" slowly unfolds into a stunning piece of psychedelic rock and "Lovestrong", part Elton John, part Pink Floyd, is simply magnificent. Even the sole cover, "Fazon", fits in perfectly with the rest of the album and has a scintillating saxophone solo. I could go on, but I won't. Each song has something noteworthy about it and this is a brief review, not an essay!
I cannot recommend this album highly enough. Jonathan Wilson is an exceptional talent (songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer) and this is perhaps one of the most beautifully sounding albums I've ever heard. Quite honestly, I can't say that I've heard anything better than this all year, so it is, without doubt, a very strong contender for my choice of album of the year and a firm addition to the (as yet unwritten) list of my very favourite albums of all time. Absolutely outstanding.