Wise John is a talented, amiable and relentlessly charming singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who’s originally from Southern California and now based in Brooklyn, New York. I learned about him last fall when I read a post on the Audio Mirage Studios blog about his wonderful song “Marry Another Man”, and became in instant fan. I love his pleasing, laid-back style of soulful folk-rock, characterized by memorable melodies, colorful instrumentation, and intelligent, relatable lyrics delivered with his beautiful warm vocals.
Though he’d long had a love of music in his veins, Wise John pursued a career as a computer/aerospace engineer. He still kept one foot in music, however, and in June 2021, released his terrific debut album A Wonderful World. The following January, finally realizing that the life he’d planned out for himself and worked so hard to achieve was making him miserable, he took a leap of faith and quit his engineering job to pursue music as a full-time career. Since then, he’s released more music, played gigs around the New York area, and has continued to build a base of loyal fans.
On May 5th, he released a delightful EP The Mr. Love Sunset Show! which he calls “a retro love song EP designed to heal your heart and sharpen your soul, rendering the feelings, failings, and fallings of romance from four very different angles.” Featuring four tracks, the EP was written, composed, and performed by Wise John with the help of producers Quinn Devlin and Alex Strahle, mixed by Sahil Ansari, and mastered by Joey Messina-Doerning. The various songs feature contributions from an array of guest musicians and vocalists, including Elise Trouw on vocals and drums, Daniel Chae on strings, Kumara Robideau on bass, Shaun Valentine on drums, Quinn Devlin on bass, drums, piano, electric guitar, alto saxophone and percussion, James Wyatt Woodall on pedal steel, Andy Shimm on bass, Dylan DeFeo on organ, Justin Garcia on guitar, and Keara Callahan, Berit Bassinger, Daniela Silva on backing vocals.
The first track “Afterglow” is a lovely but sad song, with bittersweet lyrics about falling for someone who’s not interested in becoming involved in a committed relationship “You made me say I wouldn’t get confused. It’s only play, I shouldn’t feel so used. A love vacation, a toy you didn’t choose to sleep with. Feeling sick in the afterglow.” The arrangement and instrumentation, highlighted by Daniel Chae’s achingly beautiful strings, create an enchanting backdrop for John’s incredibly vulnerable croons.
“Atlanta“, with captivating dual vocals by Wise John and Elise Trouw, tells the true story of how John’s parents got married. Elise sings from the perspective of John’s mother who, frustrated by his father’s (who was then her boyfriend) inability to commit to her, leaves him “I got way too much to lose to let you walk on me that way. So now I’m ridin’ down the road to Atlanta, Georgia towards my peace of mind. Oh I’m ridin’ down the road to Atlanta, Georgia, to leave your halfway love behind.” John sings from his father’s perspective, who after two years has a change of heart: “I’ll speak honestly and tell you I can’t stand being left behind. So now I’m ridin’ down the road to Atlanta, Georgia towards my peace of mind. Oh I’m ridin’ down the road to Atlanta, Georgia to leave my halfway loves behind.” Musically, the song has a soothing guitar-driven melody, and the marvelous pedal steel by James Wyatt Woodall gives it a lovely country folk vibe.
My favorite song on the EP, “Marry Another Man” is a poignant and beautiful love letter to the one that’s getting away. Wise John implores his girlfriend to reconsider her plans to marry someone else: “We could get married in the springtime, or tonight for all I care. Long as I have you for a lifetime. I would speak the vows in city hall with no one there. All that matters is I’m the one to take you home. I’m the one to hold you when we’re finally alone. So please darlin’ don’t marry the other man.” The official video shows Wise John performing the song in Quinn’s living room along with Elise Trouw on drums, Andy Shinn on bass, Dylan DeFeo on organ and Justin Garcia on guitar.
The wonderful lyric video for the song, filmed by Berit Bassinger, shows John as Mr. Love, forlornly walking the streets of New York at night.
The final track “Mr. Love” is a delightfully upbeat ode to Wise John’s alter-ego that, in his own words, “offers a bird’s eye view of the landscape of love from the pits of loneliness to the sunny meadows of romance.” The song is pure pop goodness, with a breezy melody, sunny instrumentals, exuberant vocals and hopeful lyrics: “Who ate all your sad day sorrows? Only Mr. Love can do. Took an endless tune of blue tomorrows, wrote the hook to a dance for two. When it’s cold outside, you’ll feel warm in the light.”
The lyric video, also filmed by Berit Bassinger, shows Wise John as Mr. Love, walking along the seacoast and spreading his positive love vibes.
I could keep gushing about this great little EP, but since I’ve already overused the words ‘wonderful’, ‘marvelous’, ‘beautiful’, ‘delightful’, etc., just give it a listen and hear it for yourselves. Better yet, fork over a few dollars and buy it on Bandcamp!
Connect with Wise John: Facebook / Instagram
Find his music on Bandcamp / Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud / YouTube