There’s a certain, inspiring sense of freedom that occasionally comes through with independent music releases, usually it’s when the artist or band has written and composed the songs in a way that is, in itself, completely free from expectations or industry limits. Wonder Junkies by Jennifer Waescher is the perfect example. Beginning with the light and joyful Summertime, the collection strikes as the sort that simply had to be written – the work of a songwriter who loves to write, who knows how to write, and who greatly enjoys the performing and recording process, too.
Instrumentally, this project offers a somewhat delicate yet uplifting fusion of subtle folk-pop and a more funk-driven, jazz-influenced ambiance. Waescher’s voice rides alongside of this beautifully, it’s as if every word has your attention, and yet the soundscape as a whole surrounds and calms you at the very same time.
So Much Fun brings together a couple of specific, memorable riffs, which create these colourful yet subtle layers of rhythm, and with this you get the smoothness and purity of the singer’s leading voice. It makes for something that feels both comfortingly familiar and refreshingly new.
The further you get into the EP, the more these snippets of influence or inspiration start to show themselves. The Woman paints a new kind of picture, the sound has a vintage and fairly seductive mood, the story presents something quite personal, directed at a significant other on occasion, at other times inviting the listener to take on the perspective of the artist or the character in the story.
Story telling is something that comes through in strong supply on this EP, as is impressive and well matched musicianship. These seven songs combined offer an easy to enjoy listening session and would also make for a pretty relaxing soundtrack to have on in the background during some lazy Sunday with friends.
Come And Go adds a touch of pop and vocal power to the mix, a soulful performance and a meandering, captivating melody unfold around you. Then with Sing Anyway you get the more singer-songwriter wandering through Europe sort of vibe, again with a touch of pop-like melody – the widely accessible kind, that any number of audiences would love to embrace. This song is definitely one of the more memorable or later recognisable ones, the performance has a certain strength and passion that really stands tall.
The added pleasure on this project is that the final two tracks present live performances, which are an absolute joy to witness. The live sound is all the more compelling as it feels so real. The live take of the title track is stunning, minimalist in a way – a beautifully mesmerising leading voice pours out around you, delivering the sentiment, the concept, in a deeply inspiring and simultaneously calming manner.
The hypnotically raw, acoustic rhythm and soul of Strawberry Moon (Live) brings things to a close. Jennifer Waescher takes one last moment to impress, and it works. Her voice wanders freely, creatively, acting as a final reminder of the artistry and openness that is Wonder Junkies. This is a definite highlight in my opinion, and its effect is that it sends you back without question to re-listen to the whole collection – the perfect way to finish.
This is actually the second EP release from Jennifer, so there’s plenty to get swept away by. The songs are fantastic, and the way in which the music and melodies have been arranged reflects each idea and each mood really well. A total pleasure to experience and an easy certainty for those long term playlists you’ve been gathering up.