Anthony Wilson

The Plan Of Paris
(Goat Hill)

The title track of Anthony Wilson’s 13th solo album is exceptional. Not only will it encourage Paris lovers to experience that magical city again and again, it is a sharply written mini-memoir of a vexing love affair. Old-fashioned in its verbal craftsmanship, this romantic, mesmerizing tune should become a standard.

The first five tracks of the alternately satisfying and maddening The Plan Of Paris (a digital-only release) are vocals showcasing guitarist/vocalist Wilson’s easygoing delivery and Gerald Clayton’s subtle keyboards. The last three are instrumentals stressing the expertise of Wilson’s band. There’s no doubt Wilson is a pro — he’s been Diana Krall’s guitarist for more than 20 years — and the instrumentals are flawless and pleasant. But they don’t deliver on the promise of the vocal numbers.

What starts as a kind of concept album about love and loss — Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks comes to mind — reduces to technically expert, pleasant instrumentals. Still, there are satisfactions, and Wilson’s versatility, and his willingness to transcend category, give the album unusual, if not fully realized, personality.

Other highlights: “A Postmaster’s Daughter,” a vocal that shifts the scene from Paris to rural New England, is a Southern Gothic tune about divorce. The guitars are beautiful, Byrds-like. Wilson doesn’t want to let this tune go. The first instrumental, “Noontide,” showcases the empathy between Clayton and Wilson. Whether it arrives at a destination is less important than the mood it creates.