Album Review | Wise John Builds A Wonderful World
California native Wise John has delivered a beautifully crafted blend of jazz, folk, and pop on his new LP, A Wonderful World.
“I wrote most of A Wonderful World while I was living in Orange County, CA, during the summer of 2020,” said Wise John.
“In addition to the gloomy state of the mid-pandemic world, I’d been facing my own personal apocalypse–I’d become bedridden for months with a flare-up of chronic illness at the end of 2019, knocked out my front teeth, been dumped by my partner, and moved home with my parents in general disrepair. My life’s plans had fallen through, and I was facing a total lack of direction and purpose. Stoked!”
“This album is my sometimes-fiery, sometimes-sweet response to the state of the world and my life at the time. Ultimately, the album’s core is this question: How does it feel to see the end-times coming, while everyone around you ignores it?” he added.
‘Won’t Somebody Let This Caged Bird Fly’ introduces us to his calibrated, pitch-perfect vocals that skip around the piano lines; it sets the listener up for a cosy and enticing atmosphere. Lyrically, it’s an inward view into feelings of freedom and the meaning behind it, while the piano moseys about curiously into a jazzy solo section. A strong hook to open with.
On the other hand, ‘Leaving LA’ packs a much more layered sound with its booming drums and suave synth pulses. There’s a crisscross of ’70s pop and ballad work during the buildup towards a hypnotic piano reprieve before crashing right back into the bright and starry chorus.
A more proggy direction fused with hints of pop-rock ensues on ‘Always Be The King’. This one sports glistening harmonies that are impressively written, and later on, the listener is treated to a ripping guitar solo jammed with addictive licks.
Further on, there’s ‘The Fall of Rome’. True to the title, the instrumental majesty on display here is akin to Queen’s dramatic vocal work and melodies. A final highlight is the closer, ‘Borderline’, which acts as a showcase for Wise John’s gorgeous falsetto talents—he manages to sound full-bodied while retaining a soft texture.
A Wonderful World shifts and dances throughout its ten tracks to cover the diverse lyrical content which reflects the ups and downs of the artist. Wise John doesn’t settle for one sound or theme, and his work is only the better for it.