With the move to California, that recording's odes to heartbreak and alienation gave way to shimmering hymns to nature arrayed across no less than four unreleased song cycles and counting. Gentle Spirit simply displays Wilson as revelation, but it was his cover of an innocuous Madonna hit (first offered to Michael Jackson) from the mid-1980s that truly convinced me of his indelible gifts. He transfigures "La Isla Bonita" beyond recognition it starts out as an Allman Brothers outtake and slowly, steadily evolves into a 3-D spaghetti western, then a metallic, mountain-ringing treatise of electric guitar evangelism. His forthcoming covers album, I'm Covered, OK?, should make plain the wonders of his rare gift for interpretation.
To quote the once-mighty Pointer Sisters as they backed Wilson's fellow underrated North Carolina maverick Betty Davis: "Y'all got to believe, believe in sumthin' ... Why not believe in me?" This grandbaby of a Southern Baptist preacher from southwest Georgia would never steer your ears or asses wrong. I was once accused by a former editor of dancing around my keyboard as I wrote (and what's wrong with that?). I don't; I have "spells" like Harriet Tubman, like Joseph Smith in the upstate New York woods, or Edgar Cayce's automatic writing as with this piece. Yes, I want to convert you, get you onboard the underground smellroad to Glory. I follow the Spirit and my black ass and the loose booty's hollerin': make pilgrimage with Jonathan Wilson and 'nem up the coast if you're magical and mystical friends of the road.
THE EMERALD TRIANGLE TOUR
Mon/2, 8 p.m. (doors at 7:30 p.m.), $15
628 Divisadero, SF
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