Over the course of his first three solo albums, Jonathan Wilson has immersed himself in the Laurel Canyon groove. Hanging out in LA with the likes of David Crosby, Graham Nash, Bonnie Raitt and Jackson Browne, Wilson made records steeped in the nostalgia of the late 1960s. Seeking to refresh his sound after the success of 2018’s Rare Birds, Wilson found himself on the same radio show as Steve Earle, who suggested he head down to Nashville and put together a band of crack session musicians and see what happened.
Heading south was a homecoming for Wilson, born and raised in North Carolina, and he fell easily into the sounds of his youth. Rare Birds took nine months to record but, recording live with no overdubs, Wilson and his band put together Dixie Blur together in just six days – hence the name.
Not that anything about the end product feels rushed. With Mark O’Connor on the fiddle and Russ Pahl on pedal steel, Wilson pads out his usual blissed-out vibe with country and bluegrass flourishes. The album opens with a cover ov Quicksilver Messenger Service’s ‘Just For Love’, setting the tone for a record which touches on several key influences. Wilson may be reconnecting with his roots musically but there’s a personal feel to the lyrics too as he sings songs of youth, relationships and loss.
Having begun with a cover, Wilson ends the record with ‘Korean Tea’, a song he first recorded with Muscadine back in the 1990s. The decision to revisit the work more than two decades on reflects a deeply personal album. It will be fascinating to see where Wilson goes next.