Echoes, the title of Jason WIlber‘s ninth solo album, reflects the inclusion of the Pink Floyd tune of the same name but also, I assume, the fact that the set consists exclusively of covers. The good news is that Wilber, a longtime guitarist for John Prine, doesn’t in fact merely echo the originals; he proves to be an imaginative interpreter who adds something fresh to almost every track.
And the song choices are as interesting as the performances. Wilber does include a few well-known tunes—among them Leon Russell’s “A Song for You” (a hit for the Carpenters) and Mick Jagger and Keith Richard’s “As Tears Go By” (which scored for Marianne Faithfull)—but most of these tracks are more obscure: David Bowie’s early “Oh You Pretty Things” is here, as are Big Star co-leader Chris Bell’s “I Am the Cosmos,” Stevie Wonder’s “Overjoyed,” and Joni Mitchell’s “Edith and the Kingpin.”
A few more upbeat tunes to balance the predominant melancholy would have been welcome, as would a fuller backup. (Only a bit of percussion accompanies Wilber’s guitar and bass.) Still, this is a strong release—good enough, surely, to move Wilber from out of Prine’s shadow and onto center stage.