Gentle Spirit

Metascore
76

Generally favorable reviews - based on 15 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 9 out of 15
  2. Negative: 0 out of 15
  1. Aug 8, 2011
    90
    Everything here is gorgeously sung and this woozy, gently uplifting collection of songs is pretty close to perfect.
  2. Aug 19, 2011
    80
    His debut illustrates a more prosaic act of creation, in which fastidious study is transformed into compelling new music. [Aug 2011, p.92]
  3. Aug 15, 2011
    80
    Wilson specialises in vintage gear, and Gentle Spirit sounds like the product of such equipment--warm, wistful and golden-hued, coated in creamed harmonies--but also, crucially, alive.
  4. Aug 8, 2011
    80
    In less accomplished hands it could have spiraled into pastiche. Instead, by being so dedicated to the past, Wilson has shaped a delicious future. [Aug 2011]
  5. Aug 8, 2011
    80
    Beautiful and bewitching.
  6. 80
    Thankfully, the further Wilson gets from his heroes, the better he gets.
  7. Gentle Spirit is impressively inert.
  8. As California dreamin' goes, this is almost as good as heading for the hills, reaching for a hand-tooled native American bong and calling yourself Moon Unit.
  9. Oct 28, 2011
    70
    Gentle Spirit is a set of gorgeously detailed folk-rock ambles, most over six minutes long.
  10. Nov 3, 2011
    60
    The zeal in presenting a glut of music like this is commendably refreshing actually, but in the end Gentle Spirit may be too big for its own good.
  11. Oct 21, 2011
    60
    There are times when Wilson's meandering style emphasis on ambiance turns on a twilight sound.
  12. Oct 6, 2011
    60
    It's engaging stuff. It just outstays its welcome a bit.
  13. Sep 22, 2011
    60
    He never sounds hurried, but Gentle Spirit overflows with ideas, albeit ones mostly from circa 1972. [Oct 2011, p.131]
  14. 60
    Gentle Spirit is one of those group effort records where musicians' edges smudge and no one showboats – except, perhaps, Wilson, who occasionally reels off the kind of distant, contemplative guitar solos so lacking in aggression that they sound like they were recorded the next canyon over.
  15. Aug 8, 2011
    60
    His debut album (a previous finished collection was never released) skates dangerously close to self indulgent pastiche yet contains some immaculately played gems that possess the definitive crackle of old school analogue tape sessions.
User Score
8.6

Universal acclaim- based on 8 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 2 out of 2
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 2
  3. Negative: 0 out of 2
  1. May 17, 2015
    6
    I have to say I'm surprised by the high praise this album is getting. Not that it's a bad record. It's just not a particularly great one. TheI have to say I'm surprised by the high praise this album is getting. Not that it's a bad record. It's just not a particularly great one. The most obvious feature of the record is it's indebtedness to the early 70s. It's gentle (as the title implies) psych-folk that is best used to soundtrack a sunny afternoon relaxing in the back yard with the intoxicant of your choice. It's a sound I enjoy quite a bit. However, the use of the word 'indebtedness' was intentional. Wilson wears his influences on his sleeve a little too obviously, skirting the fine line between influence and plagiarism. "Natural Rhapsody" could have appeared on Pink Floyd's Obscured by Clouds. "Canyon in the Rain" starts off sounding suspiciously similar to Fleetwood Mac's "Albatross." It gets to the point that spotting influences is not so much fun as it is a distraction from the music itself. Even so, none of the pilfering is anywhere as egregious as the blatant Neil Young ("Danger Bird") rip-off on Wilson's next album, Fanfare.

    Influences aside, the songs on Gentle Spirit are mostly unhurried, pleasant, and full of hooks. One could lob the criticism that in fact, the hooks are a little too easy. There are no surprises here, nothing is challenging. Everything sounds just like you'd expect if you'd been paying any attention to classic rock radio for the past 3 or 4 decades. Every song is already familiar before you've even heard it. If this is a mild criticism of the music, (which I must say is very competently crafted and played on this record), it's certainly a fault in the lyrics, which skew towards quasi-mystical hippie cliches and worn out generic classic rock sentiments pretending at social conscience, which Johnson delivers in mostly a palatably spaced-out whisper.

    All in all, that makes this an okay album, but nothing to get excited about.
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  2. Sep 17, 2012
    9
    A fantastic ablum. I would rubbish the 6 mixed reviews. Then again, music, like
    all art is subjective. I am a fan of general, good music.
    A fantastic ablum. I would rubbish the 6 mixed reviews. Then again, music, like
    all art is subjective. I am a fan of general, good music. Unless your tastes are
    a bit peculiar I think you will love this album. The Clash Music critique is perfect.
    Uncut is my favourite music magazine and gives it the 2nd biggest rating. The Guardian "Beautiful and Bewitching" also sums this album up. Jonathon Wilson took a long time in writing this album. It is beautifully crafted and superbly written. Laurel Canyon sure has found a new star. The album is oftentimes dreamy and is dotted throughout with great guitar rift's. A must have in the collection for any music lover.
    Full Review »