GUY RAZ, HOST:

Jonathan Wilson is both a record producer and a musician. He's played with the likes of Jackson Browne and Elvis Costello. And whenever he had a free moment producing in the studio, he'd work on his own album. After four years, Wilson finished the project. It's called the "Gentle Spirit," and Tom Moon has our review.

TOM MOON, BYLINE: One day during the making of "Gentle Spirit," Jonathan Wilson rigged up a microphone to record the sounds of a rainstorm outside of his studio in Laurel Canyon, California.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CANYON IN THE RAIN")

MOON: He was drawn by the pelting rhythm of the rain, but says he wanted to capture something more elusive: the rush of wind, the lonesome essence of this place where he'd been writing songs.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CANYON IN THE RAIN")

JONATHAN WILSON: (Singing) Forest of, forest of, forest of rain and leaves...

MOON: Jonathan Wilson's debut is a series of carefully drawn landscapes and nature scenes. On one song, he brings listeners inside the beauty of places he's known, describing honeysuckle on the vine in his native North Carolina and the swamps of southern Louisiana.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CAN WE REALLY PARTY TODAY?")

WILSON: (Singing) Can you swing me back there to North Carolina? Let me show you where the red tail flies, the broad river slowly wind, honeysuckles on the vine. Follow me down into south Louisiana. Let me show you where the music lies. Swamp music, drink, dance and wine. They never keep it all inside.

MOON: Though he didn't set out to be a singer-songwriter, Jonathan Wilson certainly has the tools. He slips sneaky, profound observations into otherwise ordinary lyrics. He's clearly influenced by the Laurel Canyon sound of the early 1970s. There's a touch of Neil Young's idealism, along with Joni Mitchell's sweeping melodies, but he's got his own sound.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DESERT RAVEN")

WILSON: (Singing) Fuzzy way, haze in the assault was awaking. The sand was a grayish shade of blue. Spirits of desire were her eyes they did admire. The evening that we only thought we knew.

MOON: That song, "Desert Raven," lasts nearly eight minutes. It unfolds slowly, yet it never feels long. The verses are offset by the stately, almost hypnotic guitar interlude.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DESERT RAVEN")

MOON: The first thing that captivated me about the aptly titled "Gentle Spirit" was its calm. Jonathan Wilson is the opposite of those contemporary singer-songwriters who fixate endlessly on personal hurts. Those guys sit and brood. Wilson makes like Thoreau and gets outside, seeking perspective through nature, and he brings back idyllic, delicately shaded landscapes and atmospheres that practically encourage the mind to wander.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NATURAL RHAPSODY")

WILSON: (Singing) Later, when you are all alone...

RAZ: The new album from Jonathan Wilson is called "Gentle Spirit." Our reviewer is Tom Moon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "NATURAL RHAPSODY")

WILSON: (Singing) ...that you've always known. There is no confusion, only kinks in your heart. And when you were a child...

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

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