Judging by the opening song, “Your Ears Are Burning”, Jonathan Wilson sounds as if he likes spaghetti westerns. However, when you’ve played with Bert Jansch, Gary Louris (The Jayhawks) and Ramblin’ Jack Elliot, among others, you have the freedom to do that without getting too artsy fartsy. Wilson’s delivery brings to mind an americana Nick Drake, especially on the warm, folksy “El Matador” that has a dream quality to it. Wilson is quite strong throughout with the aptly titled “Waltz With Me” which glides along. However, sometimes Wilson indulges himself occasionally at expense of the song, which is the case with the dragging “Carousel” that goes around and around for too long. Highlights on the nearly 80-minute album are the tender, barren “Road 92”, the gorgeous alt-country nuggets “White Turquoise” and title track, “Frankie Ray”. Add to that another lovely gem “Dreaming” and you have a great album already. One surprise is “Sing to You” which could have been stolen from Springsteen’s back pocket circa Nebraska or The Ghost Of Tom Joad. Then there is the lone poppy, spring-in-your-step ditty is “You Can Have Me”. It’s an album definitely worth having.
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// Notes from the Road
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