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Wise John - A Wonderful World (Self-Released)

2 July 2021

Wise John is a singer-songwriter from Southern California whg is currently based out of Brooklyn, and his debut album A Wonderful World is part folk rock, part psychedelic jazz, part dream pop. Inspired stylistically by early David Bowie and John Lennon, the album was born out of a number of personal crises experienced by the artist while the world was also in the middle of a pandemic. For all of the seriousness behind the inspiration, Wise John handles it with a deft touch; sometimes with humor, sometimes with anger, and sometimes with a hint of naivety. Regardless, he tackles the subject matter in a clever, nuanced way that would come across as self-pitying in less capable hands.

The record begins with a surprising display of genuine tenderness with “Won’t Somebody Let This Caged Bird Fly?” that sets a tone that is equally respected and subverted by the following tracks. He slips in and out of different styles with stunning ease from the psychedelic mini opera “Always Be the King” to the theatrical noir on “The Fall of Rome,” to “Wonderful World,” which could have passed for an old jazz standard if not for the wonderfully witty and satirical lyrics. Wise John explores every avenue possible, but by the final song “Borderline” he returns to the more straightforward singer-songwriter territory from the beginning. If not for this careful recapitulation, it could be easier to label A Wonderful World idiosyncratic, but it actually ends up one of the most creative, unique, and bold debut statements from an up and coming artist in recent memory.