Brian Wilson – That Lucky Old Sun
September 4, 2008
Written in collaboration with Van Dyke Parks and Scott Bennett, rock and pop legend Brian Wilson’s new album, That Lucky Old Sun, is a paean to Southern California, done as a sort of mini-musical. Though it’s got harmonies and rich orchestration augmenting Wilson’s piano and the rock and pop music, listeners probably shouldn’t be looking to hear a Smile 2 or a Beach Boys redux set of music. Though there are elements of both to be heard in That Lucky Old Sun, the album is nevertheless its own animal, pushing Wilson into fresh territory. It’s occasionally weighted down a bit by some sappiness, but for the most part, this is a very strong record that gets better as it goes along, its affection for Southern California and its culture and peoples warm and genuine. Wilson, at 65, obviously doesn’t the same voice he had in his Beach Boys heyday, but he uses the voice he does have to maximum effect. The several spoken word breaks that put the songs into a context are a bit disconcerting at first, but upon repeated listens, they work nicely to pull everything together. I have to admit that I may have enjoyed this album more than Smile, but then That Lucky Old Sun doesn’t come with the same baggage and the same high expectations that Smile did. I didn’t feel I had to like it, but rather I liked it because it was such a pleasant, often beautiful listening experience. It also ends with two of his best solo songs yet, “Midnight’s Another Day,” “Going Home” and “Southern California,” which look back on the past and present with a mixture of trepidation, joy, melancholy and nostalgia, not to mention surprising frankness. I wonder if that, in time, people will look upon this work with more affection and respect than Smile. Time will tell, of course, for but now, I think it’s essential listening.