Richard Wilson’s Moody Classicism Delivers Sparse Soul-Jazz Songcraft 

click to enlarge rain_in_my_soul_cover.jpg
Richard Wilson grew up in the U.K. and began writing songs in the new wave era, but you wouldn't guess it from the records he makes now. Wilson resettled in Memphis many years ago, and, as noted on his website, the city "permeates his work." He states further, "This great city definitely helps my creativity," and it shows. But his songs don't necessarily deliver all the cookie-cutter elements of stomping soul beats with horns, or even rockabilly, for that matter. Rather, Wilson naturally and organically fuses a jazz sensibility with a subtle blues influence to create sparse, soulful songs that could have been crafted in the ’50s.

Over his four albums to date, one constant is the sound of his "old pine Fender Telecaster [through] a reverb drenched Fender Blues Junior tube amp," and this year's EP, Rain in My Soul (Galaxy Tracks), may be his best yet, precisely because it's focused on that sound. Five out of six songs here feature only his singing and playing. And while his jazz influences don't lead to much soloing here, a deep sense of blues and jazz traditions informs every chord change and vocal nuance. It doesn't hurt that it was recorded onto tape at Electraphonic Recording, with strong vintage vibes. The simple, sparse approach suits the material well, which leans toward the moody side.

Right off the bat, "Not For You" seems to lament all the world with a few deft lyrical touches, and the centrality of his Telecaster elevates it above the sonic palette of your typical singer/songwriter's acoustic strumming. The other tracks follow suit. What really puts the songs across is Wilson's unaffected singing, a natural, mellow baritone/tenor that evokes, as he says, Bobby Darin (without the belting) or, to these ears, the smoky cool croon of Georgie Fame.

Only on track three, "Online Mainline," does the bare emotion of voice and guitar blossom into a full band arrangement, with Paul Taylor on drums and Pat Fusco on Hammond joining in. The trio's funky swing is quite in keeping with the moody solo tracks. And its lyrics, evoking our junkie-like addiction to internet stimulation, keep the vibe consistent: a bit on the dark side, sprinkled with a wry sense of humor.

It's his best work yet, not least because it suits our current lives in quarantine so well. These days, we're largely confined to the intimate echoes of our own homes, mulling over the state of the world and troubled relationships. There's a catharsis in hearing Wilson express it so starkly.   

Keep the Flyer Free!

Always independent, always free (never a paywall),
the Memphis Flyer is your source for the best in local news and information.

Now we want to expand and enhance our work.
That's why we're asking you to join us as a Frequent Flyer member.

You'll get membership perks (find out more about those here) and help us continue to deliver the independent journalism you've come to expect.


Favorite

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

The Latest

News Blog

New Virus Cases Rise by 188

Film/TV/Etc. Blog

Indie Memphis 2020: Q&A With Executive Director Ryan Watt

We Saw You

Jerry Schilling Honored by Memphis Catholic High School

News Blog

Tennessee Early Vote Turnout "Smashes" Record

News Blog

Virus Cases Rise by 2,000 in One Week

Letter From The Editor

Be Best!

Best of Memphis

Best of Memphis 2020 Introduction

Best of Memphis

Best of Memphis 2020 Arts & Entertainment

ADVERTISEMENT

Readers also liked…

ADVERTISEMENT
© 1996-2020

Contemporary Media
65 Union, 2nd Floor | Memphis, TN 38103
Visit our other sites: Memphis Magazine | Memphis Parent | Inside Memphis Business
Powered by Foundation