Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman have been collaborating together musically for the better part of thirty years. The duo started out as contributing members of Prince’s band The Revolution before beginning an illustrious career recording their own music and composing the score to several highly acclaimed films and television shows. Work as composers has kept their album releases to a minimum, but records such as 1998’s Girl Bros. and 2008’s White Flags of Winter Chimneys have shown a creativity that goes above and beyond the funk genre that has shadowed them since their days with the purple one. While working on their next album, and continuing to score Nurse Jackie, Melvoin and Coleman have put together a little treat for longtime fans and music lovers alike, an EP called Snapshots. The six songs contained herein were written and recorded at various points over the last twenty years and due to various reasons never released. But more than just being “tracks from the vault” these half dozen songs are accompanied by notes for each describing the conditions under which they were written/recorded and the context for their creation and reasons for not ending up on any album. Additionally, the entire EP, including packaging and eventual release, is being entirely done by Wendy & Lisa and Executive Producer Renata Kanclerz, making this one of the most personal and “do-it-yourself” musical releases by any recording artist. Let’s take a look at the songs and packaging that make up Snapshots.
This song was written as a proposed theme song for the eventually short-lived David E. Kelley show Snoops. “Perfect Stranger” features a down and dirty guitar riff and some really hardcore drum work. As it turns out, Wendy was still dealing with the then-recent death of her brother, Jonathan, who was an amazing drummer in his own right, and really went for broke on this song. This is a song for rolling down the windows and playing as loud as your speakers will handle, whether you’re in the car or at home. Trust me, those around you will thank you. This is a song that The Runaways wish they had recorded.
“Time” is currently my favorite track on this EP. It’s lite, catchy, funky and groovy as all get out. Prepare to put this infectious instrumental on repeat, especially if you’re out and about on a warm, sunny afternoon. I sort of got stuck at this track and had to listen to it completely around a dozen times before I could move on. You may want to listen to this last your first time through Snapshots for that very reason. Done during a “musical sprint” on rented equipment, I’m glad to finally get to hear this. Again. And again…
“WATER TO THE WAVE”
This is just a cool little number that sounds deceptively like a standard Wendy & Lisa song, but pay attention as there is some cool layering here before it really tips over into full-on experimental towards the end. The heart-achingly beautiful lyrics add a dreamlike quality that should make this song a standard date song. It was written, but ultimately unused, for the film Soul Food and I think that soundtrack is the lesser for not including it.
If I was a DJ at a club, I would play “Rosalyn” relentlessly. It just makes you want to move! There is a bad-ass beat upon which is hooked a wide range of sounds that only fills out this instrumental is a wonderful way. This will out-techno most techno songs without being annoyingly repetitive. I want a twenty minute remix of this song immediately!
“Rock Song” is another instrumental that will demand repeated listening right away. I love the guitar in this song as it is one of those riffs you always wanted to hear in a song, but never realized it until now. “Rock Song” starts off reminiscent of a recent Norah Jones tune, which is not a bad thing, but quickly sets itself apart. This was recorded by the great sound engineer Susan Rogers, which would explain why it sounds so perfect in every sense. I adore this track and it is currently threatening to not only oust “Time” as my favorite Snapshots track, but will probably be a general favorite real soon.
OK, I take it back, “Lemon Chiffon” is my favorite of the six tracks (see how good this EP is?) and is one of the best songs I have heard in a while. If there were an accompanying lyric to bolster this beautiful melody, this could possibly be the strongest song that Wendy & Lisa have ever recorded. This was recorded during the sessions for Girl Bros. and I’m curious why it wasn’t couple with vocals at the time and included on that album. Great, great track that could be astounding. I would love for this to get some killer words and be on the next album!
The CD comes with a booklet that has more details about each song than what I talk about and is a great glimpse behind the curtain. I’m a nerd for the significance of and influence behind songs, so this is right up my alley. This will be a great added layer to read as you listen. Also included are some fun snapshot pictures that are eclectic and fun and very much keeping with the tone of the record. Much like their last album, this EP will be released in a few different editions ranging from a very affordable digital download through a physical CD, an edition with a larger booklet and an ultra-limited edition that will include one of two canvas prints and a deluxe hardback photography book. Further details will be available soon at Wendy & Lisa’s official site!
I’ve often said that if you love music, you’ll love Wendy & Lisa and that has never been more true than with this EP. This is a must for long-time fans, but is also necessary for those that have written the duo off as Prince proteges. Simply put, this is a collection of great music and serves as both a reminder of and introduction to two phenomenal musicians. Turn off the radio and turn on Snapshots!