Ray Wilson was introduced to music by his father, played in bands and became a successful businessman. Then Wilson took a fifteen-year hiatus from music. I don’t exactly know if he gave it up altogether, wrote songs on the side or what but he started playing music again and recently released his debut album entitled Troubadour.
Troubadour is an American pop/rock/country album that contains good songwriting, above average singing and fantastic production. There is very little I can criticize about this album. That being said, Wilson has a sound that is going to have a hard time finding a wide audience for and not because it isn’t good (and sometimes great) but because they are so many acts that sound so similar to what Wilson is putting out. The cold hard truth for musicians as innately talented as Wilson is that being good, even great, might not be enough - you need to be different. All it takes is one look at acts likes Sufjan Steven and Father John Misty to notice this. No one else sounds like them and that’s why they have resonated on such a large scale.
Wilson’s songs are accessible and easy to enjoy. He starts off his album with “Rebel In Faded Old Jeans,” which has an uplifting, ascending vibe. The next two songs “Racin’ Jake” and “Misty Waters” revolve around a similar rock feel. There aren't many surprises here.
Wilson ends up having the most success with “Sit Beneath The Tree,” which not only benefits from more acoustic instrumentation but a more traditional bluegrass/country feel. His voice sounds at home here and my only issue was the song was too short. It’s a shame that Wilson didn’t explore this side of his creativity more.
He follows up up “Sit Beneath The Tree” with the most cookie cutter pop song on the album entitled “Soul.” Luckily, Wilson gets back on track and displays some originality with “Outsider On Sunday.” The song contains gospel overtones when he sings Hallelujah. “Silver Threads” is another success and benefits from no percussion and exceptional vocal harmonies.
Wilson is at his best on the songs that deviated from the more predictable pop/rock combo. Fifteen years is a long time to be away from music. Perhaps too long. As talented as Wilson is - it still may take a couple more years of tweaking, exploring and prodding before he fully comes into his own.
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