Orange Crate Art

Orange Crate Art

Brian Wilson and Van Dyke Parks’ songwriting collaborations for the Beach Boys’ ill-fated Smile album took nearly four decades to fully surface. In 1995, though, the two reunited for a different sort of project: an album of songs written by Parks and sung by Wilson. Orange Crate Art is a whimsical tribute to California, steeped in nostalgia and wrapped in quirky folk-pop arrangements. Parks’ sensibility — full of musical quotes and sly lyric twists — predominates here. His eclectic tastes show themselves in the gentle rhumba beat of “Hold Back Time,” the Caribbean ambiance of “My Jeanine” and the ‘30s soundtrack feel of the title song. Oddly composed string backdrops, bass harmonicas and steel drums add to the exoticism. It all sounds a bit rarified, though echoes of familiar Beach Boys-style pop are heard in “Sail Away” and in Wilson’s vocals generally. Some might consider this a curious footnote to Wilson’s better-known recordings, but it’s more than that. Deliberately anachronistic, Orange Crate Art is a beguiling postcard from a Golden State dreamland deep in the hearts of its creators.

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