Release Date: Oct 15, 2013
Record label: Bella Union
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Neo-Psychedelia, Alternative Singer/Songwriter, Alternative Country-Rock, Chamber Pop, American Underground
Fanfare, the second album by Los Angeles based singer songwriter and producer Jonathan Wilson is a serious proposition. While Wilson’s 2011 debut Gentle Spirit was as languid and beatific as its unassuming title suggests, Fanfare is this multi talented musician’s grand statement. It’s a follow up that shows a staggering degree of ambition and musical accomplishment burnished by first class songwriting in tune with the great traditions of American psychedelic rock and Laurel Canyon melody.
The acclaim for Jonathan Wilson's 2011 debut, Gentle Spirit, meant he could call on some real heavyweights for the follow-up. The assembled cast here includes Jackson Browne and the Jayhawks, while none other than David Crosby and Graham Nash (of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) drop into provide trademark silky harmonies. The result is that Fanfare is something of an epic shrine to softer 70s rock: balanced on a sixpence between Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, John Lennon's Mind Games and namesake Dennis Wilson's exquisitely weary Pacific Ocean Blue.
On the positively baked Gentle Spirit, from 2011, Jonathan Wilson offered a stellar update of the early-'70s Laurel Canyon sound. For Fanfare, he is obviously inspired by the production techniques of that decade on both sides of the Atlantic. This is one of the most delightfully ornamented recordings to come down the pipe in quite some time. Its sound is so warm and inviting, it almost proves a distraction from the songs.
Jonathan Wilson waited until he was well into this 30s to release his first solo album, 2011's Gentle Spirit. The most famous so-called 'late bloomer' must be Leonard Cohen (first album at 32) with more recent examples of fine first records at a more advanced age than most in the singer-songwriter realm being Elvis Perkins and Harper Simon. With Wilson, as with those guys, this fact allows certain things to adorn his music: there is a gentleness that comes from making a first record without any particular urgency to prove one's worth, and a pleasant relaxedness and comfort in the fact his influences are so obvious as to occasionally veer into imitation.
At first, Fanfare suggests that Jonathan Wilson has lost the plot. Having revived the laidback, jam-friendly, free and easy spirit of the creative peak of West Coast singer-songwriterdom (circa 1971) on celebrated 2011 debut Gentle Spirit, this second solo album appears to fast-forward to that awkward spot in his legendary heroes’ musical journeys where weed, wine and song give way to class A’s and lawyers, budgets stretch into figures close to small countries’ GPDs, and band members drop into studio individually to record hour upon hour of showing-off in a vain attempt to divert attention from the fact that inspiration has left the building. Fanfare truly is an unashamedly grand affair.