Pink Floyd Influences Heard Throughout!
Features Contributions From Father John Misty, Lucius, Lana Del Rey & Laraaji!
Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist/producer Jonathan Wilson (Father John Misty, Karen Elson, Conor Oberst), returns with his third solo release on Bella Union. The ambitious "maximalist" album, titled Rare Birds, features contributions from Father John Misty, Lucius, Lana Del Rey, and New Age music legend Laraaji.
Jonathan Wilson had a busy 2017, producing Father John Mistys grammynominated Pure Comedy and touring arenas around the globe as a guitarist and vocalist for Pink Floyd legend Roger Waters (for whom he also contributed to the lauded Is This The Life We Really Want? album.) Wilson also saw widespread acclaim heaped on Karen Elsons sophomore LP Double Roses, which he recorded with her in Los Angeles in 2016.
But its not looking like Wilson is going to get much of a rest in 2018 either, as he continues on with the worldwide Waters tour and releases his own new solo album Rare Birds. The highly anticipated long player features backing vocals from Lana Del Rey, Josh Tillman, fellow Roger Waters bandmates Lucius and an extraordinary musical gift from otherworldly Brian Eno collaborator Laraaji .
Although much of the album is comprised lyrically of meditations on a failed relationship and its aftermath, Wilson insists that Rare Birds is not really a concept album. "Its meant more as a healing affair, a rejuvenation, a reconciliation, for others, and for me. I wanted to balance personal narrative with the need I feel for calming healing music. I think we need journeys in sound, psychedelic gossamer-winged music that includes elements consciously and purposefully to incite hope, positivity, longing, reckless abandon and regret. Its all in there."
And, for this one, music critics will need to retire the comparisons to heritage rockers and Laurel Canyon troubadours as theyre hardly useful anymore. Wilsons new sound takes a synthetic/acoustic, best-of-both-worlds analogue/digital hybrid approach to achieve the complexity, sonic density and glossy hi-fi coating of Rare Birds. Heard for the first time on a Jonathan Wilson album are the sounds of synthesizers and drum machines.
Wilson describes Rare Birds as a maximalist, high density album more influenced by '80s British production than anything to do with Southern California in 1970s. Its a dynamic new approach for Wilson that calls to mind one of Peter Gabriels early solo albums or even mid-period Kate Bush. "This album is a hell of a lot more Trevor Horn than anything, you know, Laurel Canyon-related," he adds. The song that "started the whole record" was "Loving You". Says Wilson, I was floundering in my studio pacing the floors for months, scratching my head for a clue to how I would embark upon the process of making Rare Birds. I was waiting on a sign, a catalyst."
The catalyst came in the form of experimental ambient and new age musician Larajji. The pair had played together in the past, on the east coast, but its rare that Larajji is in Los Angeles and available to record. Wilson invited him to his Echo Park studio for a few sessions. "I had "Loving You" kicking around in a voice note on my phone for a while, something in it was my subtle ode to John Lennon Larajii is one of the most musical humans I have ever come across, and every twist and turn he takes is documented here, it was not multiple passes, it was pure Larajji in the moment. I then went and sang a "scratch vocal", which was always meant to be a scratch but Ill admit it had spirit so I left it all the way down the line." Wilson says simply of the song, "its very authentic in that the longing was very real."
Of Rare Birds as a whole Wilson says, "I want my music to hit people like an emotional tidal wave. With my songwriting its never about a clever couplet or smug turn of phrase, its about the intensity, the impact. Besides, were all fishing downstream from Townes Van Zandt anyway, so the only thing left to do is go BIG."
"Jonathans talent "mastery" may be more apt places him among a rarefied class of musical auteur. Youd be hard pressed to find a comparison, or contemporary for that matter, that would do his recent work justice." Josh Tillman
"To say Jonathan Wilson plays many instruments well would be an understatement. He plays with a rare combination of extreme technical prowess and elusive soul. Maybe its his southern roots honed through many years as a session player and producer in LA or just some happy accident of nature but in any event it is a fantastic thing to witness. As a songwriter he is always exploring and pushing the limits while managing to remain a sturdy link to many of the most sacred elements that made the psychedelic rock n roll of the 60s and 70s so magical to begin with." Conor Oberst
"Jonathan Wilsons new record brings together as much a poet as a man adept in the art of production. The result is yet another unplaceable album of sparkling timelessness." Laura Marling
Rare Birds was produced by Jonathan Wilson. Engineered by Dave Cerminara at Wilsons own Fivestarstudios in Echo Park, Los Angeles on the Cadac G series mixing desk. Mastered by Adam Ayan at Gateway Mastering in Portland, Maine.
"Sleeper it may be, Rare Birds is also one of the year's best slow-burn records. It's 80 minutes of cosmic, trippy guitar rock heavily influenced by the blues. Listen long enough and you'll find yourself taking flight, like one of Wilson's 'rare birds,' who are 'out in space,' paying little attention to the world below them." - Paste Magazine
• Double LP
• Gatefold jacket with gold embossing on front and back
• Lyric book
Josh Tillman (7)
Lana Del Rey (10)
1. Trafalgar Square
3. Over The Midnight
4. There's A Light
5. Sunset Blvd.
6. Rare Birds
7. 49 Hair Flips
8. Miriam Montague
9. Loving You
10. Living With Myself
11. Hard To Get Over
12. Hi Ho The Righteous
13. Mulholland Queen