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Jonathan Wilson – Dixie Blur

March 22, 2020

Jonathan Wilson’s album Rare Birds was one of my favorite albums from 2018. That album had a psychedelic Pink Floyd vibe, Dixie Blur has more of a country/Americana feel. With each listening, it sounds less country/Americana and more like the psychedelia of Wilson’s other three albums, but the Americana prevails.

Wilson has an interesting resume. He has produced Father John Misty albums and serves as guitarist in Roger Waters’ (Pink Floyd) touring band (he plays David Gilmour’s role in that band). His resume is long – if interested you should check out his Wikipedia page.

Wilson was recently interviewed in Variety and he did not shy away from the Americana label.

When that genre started getting talked about, or at least the first time that I became aware of that as a sound or a thing, I was like, “Oh my God, that sounds gross. Like, what is that? Some newfangled version of the fucking “Harry Smith Folk Anthology” sung by some British dudes on the Grammys or something? I felt like that was kind of what it was peddled as. So I wanted to explore it and figure out what could I do within that genre that could be tasteful. And then for me, considering where I grew up and my family — I mean, my grandmother’s brother played with fucking Bill Monroe, so it’s not a stretch for me to dabble with the fiddle and with the banjo. So rather than a scholastic “let’s do an American roots study,” it’s really where I’m from, so it’s not a stretch. Some of the stuff I’ve done in the past, like the British-psych-acid-buzz thing, that’s exotic. This kind of sound for me is just a natural thing.

One of the thrills of this album is Mark O’Connor’s fiddle work. Once upon a time, O’Connor was thee Nashville fiddle session guy, but he got fed up and stopped doing that. How Wilson talked him into playing on Dixie Blur is miraculous. Per Wilson:

“I was thinking about fiddle as being an integral part of the record, and I needed to find the best. In my mind the best of the best was Mark O’Connor. So I decided to reach out to him. I said, ‘Hey man, I’m doing a session, would you like to come down and play fiddle?’ and he’s like, ‘Thank you, but I haven’t done a session since 1990.’ So, he didn’t say no and he didn’t say yes! Over time, he eventually said, ‘Maybe, but my only stipulation is it’s got to be with the band, no overdubs. That’s what drove me out of the session business.’ That was a big deal to all of us. Mark truly elevates the record and he shines as the most brilliant fiddler on Earth, I thank him for his beautiful melodies on this album.”

In addition to O’Connor, the album was produced by Wilson’s buddy Pat Sansone (Wilco). It was recorded in Studio A at the Sound Emporium, the late country maverick Cowboy Jack Clement’s studio, with premier Nashville studio cats including bass player Dennis Crouch, Russ Pahl on pedal steel and multi-instrumentalist Jim Hoke.

It is a delightful album. Wilson has successfully mixed his Laurel Canyon singer-songwriter schtick with his psychedelic Pink Floyd vibe and Americana to create a Jonathan Wilson sound. It results in Wilson’s most original album to date. That is all you can ask from a recording artist – to develop their own voice.  It has the perfect album title Dixie Blur. He has brilliantly blurred several styles with down-home southern charm.

From → Music Reviews

One Comment
  1. This sounds awesome!

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