North Carolina-born, Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer Jonathan Wilson—whose work you, as a Paste reader, are all but certainly familiar with whether you recognize his name or not—shares his fourth album Dixie Blur on March 6 via BMG, and we’re proud to premiere its latest single.
By and large, “Oh Girl” renders romantic nostalgia’s rosy glow in somber piano and lap steel, with Wilson holding a torch (but no hard feelings) for his lost love: “Missing someone is the kind of hurt a heart should be grateful to feel,” he opines, his understated delivery amplifying the sentiment’s authenticity. The song’s interludes, instrumental save for Wilson and his backing singers’ layered vocalizations, lend his reminiscence a sense of reverence, while the honky-tonk breakdown smack-dab in the middle of the track sounds a celebratory note, with Wilson singing, “Hey old girl, they were such good times / We sang our songs and we drank our wine / All the riches and gold in the world, I wouldn’t take in trade.”
“I jokingly call my piano the hurt locker, and when I sat down to write ‘Oh Girl’ it may have been a bit of that, but also a celebration, a fond remembrance of a past relationship. I wanted to cement a long time love of mine, who had decided to step away, in a song,” Wilson tells Paste. “The tune starts out with us meeting in Soho, NYC, having a sitar dinner on 6th Street and finally living together a few years, only to end the ride. Sat at the piano bench remembering that fun, the magic, the old times.”
“I knew I wanted a plaintive harmonica solo and that melody on the demo I played on the melodica, but in the studio the great Jim Hoke played down that classic solo,” he adds. “When I listen to the song it reminds me of that time, that feeling, that love … Songs are good like that. ‘Shine old times, in tender lights.’”
Wilson knows his way ‘round a tune, as his resumé reflects. As a producer, he’s worked with the likes of Father John Misty, Conor Oberst, Laura Marling, Dawes and Karen Elson—Josh Tillman (the man behind the FJM moniker) has said Wilson’s “talent—‘mastery’ may be more apt—places him among a rarefied class of musical auteur,” while Marling has called him “as much a poet as a man adept in the art of production.” Wilson served as musical director, guitarist and vocalist on Roger Waters’ US+THEM Tour in 2017-18, a role he’ll resume on Waters’ This Is Not A Drill Tour this summer. And in his solo work, he’s collaborated with Lana Del Rey, Lucius, Tillman and Laraaji.
Wilson recorded Dixie Blur in Nashville in order to reconnect to his Southern roots, working with producer Pat Sansone of Wilco and recording everything live in-studio with a stacked supporting cast, a stark contrast to his previous albums, on which he handled most of the instrumentation himself.
“Oh Girl” is the fifth track to arrive ahead of Dixie Blur’s release, following “So Alive,” “69 Corvette,” “Korean Tea” and “In Heaven Making Love,” while Dixie Blur itself follows Wilson’s 2011 debut Gentle Spirit, 2013’s Fanfare and 2018’s “maximalist” Rare Birds.
Check out “Oh Girl” below, plus a 2012 Wilson performance from the Paste archives, and find the artist’s spring tour dates further down. You can preorder Dixie Blur here.
Jonathan Wilson Tour Dates:
06 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever
07 – Los Angeles, Calif. @ Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever
10 – Toronto, Ont. @ The Great Hall
12 – Brooklyn, N.Y. @ Brooklyn Bowl
13 – Philadelphia, Pa. @ XPN Free at Noon
15 – Charleston, W.V. @ Mountain Stage
17 – Nashville, Tenn. @ Mercy Lounge
18 – Denver, Colo. @ Bluebird