BRINGING IT ALL BACK HOME
Jonathan Wilson’s sprawling and often quite brilliant 2018 album Rare Birds threw everything at the wall to see what might stick. Towards the end, it included a song called ‘Hi Ho The Righteous’. That tune kinda, sorta updated what Roger McGuinn and Gram Parsons were doing during their all-toobrief partnership back in 1968, only with a lot more psychedelics. Taking a break from LA, Wilson has relocated to Nashville for Dixie Blur, as he takes a further trip into what Parsons used to refer to as “cosmic American music.” Fiddles and pedal steels are brought to the fore, allowing Wilson to reconnect with the music he was reared on.
As well as helping out Father
John Misty and Dawes, Wilson’s main day job is as musical director for Roger Waters, and there’s plenty of evidence of that here too. Imagine the Floyd recording one of their later albums in Tennessee and you’d be in the right ballpark.
The gentle sway of ‘Just For Love’ is carried on woodwinds, while
‘69 Corvette’ remembers Wilson’s childhood over plucked guitar. The line “Remember to tell them you love them every time” should move everyone to pick up the phone and call the folks. Elsewhere, the pedal steel whine of ‘New Home’ would bring a tear to a glass eye; ‘So Alive’ picks things up a bit, allowing a light toe-tap; and the hoe-downy ‘Heaven Making Love’ maintains the tempo. ‘O’ Girl’ wouldn’t have shamed prime-time Elton John, before giving it a bit of Wilson – both Brian and Dennis – in the middle.
Dixie Blur does suffer from a slight lack of variety, which becomes more noticeable the longer it goes on. But there’s no faulting the man’s ambition, and it’s all beautifully put together. If mid-paced Pink Floyd is your thing, you could do a lot worse, but you’ll need some time to absorb it all. OUT MARCH 6 · PAT CARTY