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Brian Wilson
That Lucky Old Sun
Capitol Records
www.brianwilson.com


Brian Wilson is no stranger to building entire albums around a theme. But I don't recall him ever putting the entire production together with narrative, weaving a strange story in an almost pidgin Broadway fashion. That Lucky Old Sun is bookended with short variations on the old folk song "Lucky Old Sun", but in true Wilson-esque fashion, the tracks are filled with Pet Sounds-style harmonies and lush orchestrations. Immediately after the introduction track, Wilson launches into a grooving, rock solid California vibe that is immediately reminiscent of his Beach Boys days. "Morning Beat" gives the listener an introduction to the landscape of the story, the Santa Monica pier, the streets of Los Angeles in the warm summertime, the characters who populate the landscape and their cars and their party habits. Then an odd thing happens… Wilson launches into a spoken word narrative about the characters and places in the story. This narrative voice exists throughout the album, helping to flesh out the stories told in the songs. "Forever My Surfer Girl" sounds as if it was lifted directly off of Pet Sounds, as do many of the tracks. Wilson's penchant for creating complex, rich harmonies is still evident, as is his brilliant knack for telling a story in three minutes. The lyrics found on That Lucky Old Sun are filled with allusion and literate splendiferousness as they roll through their simple everyday stories. Wilson's stories illuminate his belief that rock'n'roll music still has the ability to change the world, and not just the world of his sunshiny California, but also the world. With Rodgers & Hammerstein-style adeptness, Wilson drops the occasional reminder into the lyrics that "That lucky old sun has got nothing to do but roll around in heaven all day." Wilson's voice is aged and rougher than it has ever sounded, but his singing is as clear and beautiful as it was when he first began in the 1960s, and his masterful songwriting has obviously not diminished over the decades. These tunes are bouncing affairs, complete with the aforementioned harmonic content, but also with liberal strings and horns added to the basic rock ensemble of guitar, bass, drums and keyboards.

The songs on That Lucky Old Sun are brilliant, both in form and in their ability to transport the listener to their own special locale. Brian Wilson's magical touch for creating a landscape that moves the listener out of their own life, even if only temporarily, remains in force, possibly more so now than ever before. If you've been a follower of Wilson over the years or simply long for that simplicity and beauty that was abundant on Beach Boys records, than That Lucky Old Sun is for you. If you just need to feel good, or maybe need some relaxation time away from the hustle and bustle of the modern world and all of its troubles, than this record can transport you to a much happier place. Indeed, that lucky old sun has got nothing to do but roll around heaven all day, and Wilson makes it possible for everyone to feel like that is perhaps the most worthy goal of all.

-David DeVoe

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