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Gentle Spirit

4.6 out of 5 stars 28 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Gentle Spirit is not simply the name of the debut solo album by songwriter/musician/producer, Jonathan Wilson, it represents the ethos of the artist himself. Warm, supple melodies etched in layers of stringed instruments and willowy organ motifs accompany his earnest, North Carolinian drawl as he tells tales of humane values lost and found.
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 13, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Bella Union
  • ASIN: B0058IA75C
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #84,506 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Northuis on September 25, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Yes there is according to "Red On Black" trouble with Gentle Spirit, trouble with a capital T and that rhymes with P and that stands for pastiche! But who really cares?
Like the Black Angels and numerous other young bands there is a movement towards classic psychedelia including psych folk. All the historic sources ROB mentions in his review of Wilson's music are probably correct but he forgot to mention a kinship to some of Pink Floyd's slower songs. I personally think that this is one of the best debut CDs I have heard in some time and it is worth the price of admittance if only for the song "The Way I Feel", but there are numerous moments of absolute brilliance. After the snoozefest that is Neil Young's release of "A Treasure" this CD is the real treasure. Load up your bong and go forward into the past or backward into the future. I'm glad I bought this CD!
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Format: Audio CD
2nd album from North Carolina artist--softly affecting, gently soul-stirring, luxurious neo-folk rock
ballads with a perceptive singer/songwriter insight and an abundance of introspective psychedel-
ic/atmospheric intricacies. A Laurel Canyon-like place where calming, rich textures move with
ease into a riveting psych-rock arena. This is not made for a short attention span, but it feels like
it will be a long-lasting, slow-growing album with a subtle depth of mystic spirit. Includes guest
appearances from members of Black Crowes, Jayhawks, Vetiver, and a Gordon Lightfoot cover.
Recalls artists such as Neil Young, the Goldberg Sisters, Elliott Smith, Syd Barrett/Pink Floyd,
Jackson Browne, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Nick Drake, Spiritualized, Bonnie "Prince"
Billy, Robbie Robertson, Low.
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Format: Audio CD
The heat and noise surrounding this album has been quite intense and reflects a view that on his second album North Carolina native Jonathan Wilson has produced a startlingly accurate piece of musical archaeology by uncovering a lost vibe from 1970s Laurel Canyon and tapping directly into the laid-back Californian aesthetic of singers like James Taylor, Jackson Browne and Neil Young. What you have to decide dear listener is whether "Gentle Spirit" builds upon that legacy in a meaningful and progressive way or alternatively is a piece of high end hippy bilge from a singer locked into another time. The issue with this album is that it actually plays into both narratives although the balance is generally well on the side of the righteous. One issue to address immediately is that if your musical bus is seeking out exciting times make sure you please don't get off at this stop. This album is so laid back it makes the Cowboy Junkies sound like death metal. And yet like Bon Iver's "For Emma" it whittles away at your musical sensibilities and very occasionally gently beats some of them into total submission. That said at 13 tracks on a double album size disc with many songs stretching over 8 minutes it is a very long and languid album requiring a saintlike degree of patience and perseverance plus the right ambience to fully appreciate the best of these songs and equally discard the worse (albeit most are excellent).

There are tracks which standout from first listen not least the lovely eight minute tour de force "Desert Raven" which reminds you of the band America at their best and which is made for watching the light go down over a sun drenched Californian sunset.
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Format: Audio CD
Although my taste in music is wide and varied, I don't have a lot of music QUITE like this record. But I bought Uncut magazine's Best of 2011 issue and there was an article in it about this dude Jonathan Wilson. Gentle Spirit also made their Best Of list. They also include a free CD which had a sample track off the album, the one written by Gordon Lightfoot. Well, I was taken with it, so I decided to order the CD. Real glad I did... REAL glad.

I must admit I am real surprised to find only 5 reviews of it here on Amazon. I thought there would be a LOT more. Listening to this is like having a full body massage on a beautiful summer's day while the sounds of the ocean in the background, a cocktail at your elbow. It just calms the soul and soothes the brain. But at the same time its not mindless pap. The arrangements are surprising and intriguing enough to keep you coming back for more. And the thing just sounds gorgeous throughout. The quality of musicianship is outstanding. I know that sounds suspiciously like a 'muso' type comment and god knows I despise that type of music, but it really is awesome. Wilson doesn't have the strongest voice ever, but it works extremely well with the music.

In a word - 'groovy'. I discuss this record and others like it in greater detail on my blog: The Crozier Report. Feel free to stop by!
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Jonathan Wilson's Gentle Spirit coats you in a dream-like wash from beginning to end. The beauty of this album is the complexity behind the simplicity...if you know what I mean. It's what is going on between the notes that are as beautiful as the notes themselves. This album can be listened to on a lot of different levels....listen to it intently and hear the wonderful structures and creative intensity or put it on as background music and let it absorb into your psych. Yes, of course you can hear CSN or even Neil Young for that matter. Yes you can hear America or Pink Floyd at times. But it's because of it's throwback to a simpler past, makes this album a wondrous standout today!
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