Being Boring

There’s much to be said of music that isn’t too exciting. Apropos of The Word’s recent review of Jonathan Wilson’s Gentle Spirit, sometimes all you want from music is a nice mid-tempo, easy-rock Laurel Canyon sound to sooth those frazzled neurons trounced by a day of deadlines, interpersonal crises, political shenanigans and people just being, without being too rude, bloody idiots.

Look, I like – scratch that, I loveRussian Circles and Psychic Paramount and PJ Harvey and other such challenging music1, but not every day. Which is where wonders such as Cotton Jones or Lambchop or even Yo La Tengo come in; beautifully understated music, intelligent and soulful enough to engage, but not too clamorous.

Back to ol’ JW. Having read that his debut CD is a wistful, gentle thing, I thought I’d give it a try, as my poor little brain’s been taking a bashing lately. Gentle Spirit is a charming record, what with his warm, soft voice and non-more-easy-rockin’ guitar, but after a couple of listens you’re left feeling a little unsatisfied. Problem is, he’s not good enough at self-editing; songs go on for six or seven minutes pleasantly enough, but when you’re there for that long, you need to be doing far more with it. Six minutes is just too long for a single idea, no matter how nicely you put that idea across. This year I’ve been reacquainted with Low’s Laser Beam – one idea, just under three minutes. No more. Look, we’re all old enough round here to not bother with ten minute polite wig-outs like “Valley Of The Silver Moon”. Without meaning to sound rude, the album does have a tendency to go a little bit Richard Ashcroft.

Which brings me onto Bella Union themselves. Lovely label, but sometimes strangely conservative given the two co-founders history. Yes, I know Explosions In The Sky and Department Of Eagles are on there too, but something a bit more, well, majestic might not go amiss.

Anyway, back to Mr Wilson. Nice record, if you can excuse the length. Might be good for your morning commute.

1 Yes, I know she’s just won the bleedin’ Mercury award, but an elegy to England’s lost souls from its wartime misadventures isn’t always what you want on a packed Jubilee Line tube at rush hour.

MP3: Desert Raven by Jonathan Wilson

Buy “Gentle Spirit” Here (CD/MP3)

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