wed 20/10/2021

CD: Jonathan Wilson - Fanfare | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Jonathan Wilson - Fanfare

CD: Jonathan Wilson - Fanfare

Contender for 2013’s best album could have been 1973’s best

If there’s a problem with Jonathan Wilson’s astonishing second album, it’s the potentially distracting presence of the stunningly heavy list of contributors. Those mucking in to help out include Jackson Browne, David Crosby and Graham Nash who gather alongside Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench from Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers. Former Fleet Fox Josh Tillman is on board too. But they all take a back seat to Wilson on Fanfare, the mind-blowing follow up to 2011’s Gentle Spirit.

Gentle Spirit was good, and a terrifically assured echo of LA’s early Seventies Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter scene. But it was no preparation for Fanfare. Co-opting imagery from Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam for the sleeve is extraordinarily over the top, but it is appropriate as Fanfare breathes new life at gale force into the familiar, although it’s doubtful that Wilson is God and the album is the prototype for a fresh type of spirit. There is no doubt however that he’s a zealot: workaholic Wilson has just helmed the new Roy Harper album, and has been treading the boards with the Grateful Dead’s Bob Weir.

The shape-shifting Fanfare moves between the euphoric and introspective with no effort. The sparse gives way to the dense and lush with seamless logic. Crosby Stills Nash & Young are in there. So are Dennis Wilson’s Pacific Ocean Blue, Crazy Horse and even Dark Side of the Moon-era Pink Floyd. White-lightning guitar solos evoke Quicksilver Messenger Service's John Cipollina and Country Joe & The Fish. But this would be nothing – a mere homage – without the songs. LIke his label-mate John Grant, Wilson takes his inspirations (and all those guests) and puts them to work on compositions which stand shoulder to shoulder with what he is nodding back at. This is no hoary retread. The jazzy, psychedelic, kaleidoscopic Fanfare is no less than Wilson’s counterpart to Todd Rundgren’s A Wizard, A True Star. It’s fresh and utterly un-retro. Breathing new life indeed.

Visit Kieron Tyler’s blog

Overleaf: Watch the video for “Dear Friend” from Jonathan Wilson’s Fanfare

Watch the video for “Dear Friend” from Jonathan Wilson’s Fanfare

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