Psychedelic folk-rock artist Wise John released his debut LP, A Wonderful World, just one week ago, on June 13.
Speaking to the album, Wise John shares, “I wrote most of ‘A Wonderful World’ while I was living in Orange County, CA, during the summer of 2020. 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!”
He goes on to add, “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?”
A Wonderful World features the talents of Wise John (piano, keys, lead vocals, human choir), Shaun Valentine (drums, percussion), Noah Sierota (bass), Justin Nichols (bass), Dani Silva (vocals), Adela Pfaff (vocals), Tom Strahle (lead guitar), and Micaela Ines (Rhodes).
Encompassing 10-tracks, the album begins with “Won’t Somebody Let This Caged Bird Fly?,” opening on an austere, plaintive piano topped by Wise John’s poignant voice. Highlights on the album include “Leaving LA,” a gleaming alt-rock number infused with hints of SoCal savors. Vaguely reminiscent of the Beatles, the tune rises and ebbs on luscious coloration as John’s lush voice narrates getting out of Los Angeles.
“Always Be The King” rolls out on prog-rock flavors merged with hues of colorful pop-rock. Radiant harmonies infuse the tune with sumptuous surfaces, followed by a searing, controlled guitar solo that’s stellar.
“The Fall of Rome” conjures up flavors of Queen, traveling on a rococo melody topped by dramatic vocal textures. Whereas “Me And My Piano” offers low-slung coloration, drifting with jazz tints, while Wise John’s tender tones imbue the lyrics with sad nostalgia.
The last track, “Borderline,” allows Wise John to display his tasty falsetto, creamy and soft. A thumping pulse provides the rhythm as the piano offers elegant, elegiac colors.
A Wonderful World mirrors the experiences of Wise John as he journeyed from incessant embarrassing circumstances to sonic triumph. It’s a grand album, impressively put together.