Jonathan Wilson

Frankie Ray

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The former Muscadine man is nothing if not ambitious with this album. In spite of its hushed tones that make it perfect 2 a.m. listening, there's a decided epic quality to the disc, not least in a pair of compositions that both run past the nine-minute mark, one of which, "Masters in China," morphs slowly into a wonderfully bewildered version of the Beatles' "I'm Looking Through You." But when he chooses to be, Wilson -- who played almost everything here himself, in addition to writing and producing -- can be concise, writing of great beauty, as he shows on "Forever Lies My Love" and "El Matador." He can be a very enigmatic writer, and deliberately so, which simply adds to the air of mystery that surrounds this album so lovingly. That's not a bad thing at all; it suits the overall velvet mood here, with generally subdued melodies -- although things do perk up a little toward the end. It's accomplished, undoubtedly very personal, and just the kind of record for those lonely nights when sleep eludes you and you want something to surround you like a comforter.

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