Ironically enough just prior to popping on Children of June, the debut record of North London singer/ songwriter and self-described one-man band, Freeholm Wilson, I was binge listening to The Brian Jonestown Massacre for a different venture I am working on (one cannot lie about these things). And as I walked around my apartment listening to Children of June hoping that the muse would visit me and help me write this article I found myself at moments wondering whether or not I had switched off The Brian Jonestown Massacre at all. Such are the similarities between the two, in certain instances at least. There are of course other folk and Americana greats that one hears the nuances of on Children of June, Dylan in spots, The Beatles in others, smidges of Springsteen, echoes of Brian Wilson helmed Beach Boys records, and the harmonies of Crosby Stills and Nash.
Despite all these influences Children of June never comes off sounding like a covers record or an ode of any sort. References to the aforementioned famous names serve only to give context to Freeholm Wilson’s ascribed genres instead of me relentlessly beating readers over the head with blunt force adjectives. A large part of what makes Wilson’s sound so wholly inviting and admirably nostalgic is his use of what these days are referred to as antique equipment such as a Fostex R8 reel to reel as well as an ex BBC Studer A807. Wilson recorded Children of June using one microphone – a 1960s Coles 4038 ribbon mic—which he salvaged from the decommissioned studios of the BBC World Service.
These antique soundscapes do not go unnoticed. On the opening track “Night Train” and the following “Be There” Wilson employs that Brian Jonestown musical rhetoric of the bluesy finger picked guitar layered over the tumbleweed-blown melody and repetitious thunderclaps of tambourine. But he doesn’t let this trend continue on too long digging into a moodier psychedelic realm on “House by the Sea.”
Wilson’s penchant for Dylan on the acoustic instrumental “Shelly’s Colours” and the rollicking “To the Country” though the latter’s vocals, lush and hushed, sound more Paul Simon than Dylan perhaps even more so on the crushingly beautiful “California’s Mine.” Wilson returns to the raucous folk-stomp later on “Run Back to Me” and closes out Children of June with the acoustic psych-pop pleasures of “Autumn Child.”
With the resurgence of psych tinged anything finding its way into the music of some of today’s biggest indie bands, it’s nice to listen to an artist, yet unknown, who is making this kind of music in its most organic form, using the same tools his predecessors used so long ago, and proving them to still be worthy, if not better. If you’re one of those types who like to brag that you were listening to an artist before they became hugely successful then you should be all over Freeholm Wilson’s Children of June. You can thank me later.
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