For those who are unfamiliar with Wendy & Lisa, the duo of Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman are the most celebrated members to work with Prince as members of the Revolution; Wendy on rhythm guitar and vocals and Lisa on keyboards and vocals. They are widely acknowledged as having contributed substantially to Prince’s sound during his most creative and successful period: Purple Rain, Parade, and Around the World in a Day.
In 1986 when Prince disbanded the Revolution, childhood friends Wendy & Lisa went on to start their career as a recording duo. The next year they released their first album simply titled Wendy & Lisa, with the lead single “Waterfall” receiving some airplay. The album was moderately successful and it opened the doors for them to continue as recording artists.
Now into a career that has seen them release six albums, they also currently score the music for the NBC series Heroes as well as the upcoming Fox series Virtuality and Showtime’s Nurse Jackie. They have also received the ASCAP award for Composers of the Year for their work on “Dangerous Minds,” the theme to HBO’s Carnivale, Crossing Jordan, and Heroes and will be composing the original score for the upcoming production of the 1937 CBS Radio drama The Fall of the City.
White Flags of Winter Chimneys, the title of the album, is a lyric taken from Joni Mitchell’s “Hejira.” Here, Wendy & Lisa return to the more ethereal and esoteric sound of their debut. At first listen you can hear the growth of two artists who have been making music together for over 20 years and who are very comfortable in who they are and the kind of music they create.
After working with several labels during their recording career, this album is being released totally independently and in several formats for their fans. The sense of freedom of not being dictated to by a major record label or A&R personnel shows in their music. If you are looking for the three-minute hit single that plays on pop and urban radio formats every day of the week, you won’t find that here. If you are looking for a quality listening experience and great musicianship, then you will be very content with this album.
The album opens with a very majestic opening number titled “Balloon,” which took me back to one of my favorite tracks from their first album: “Stay.” “You and I” is a standout track that clearly shows you the talent and creativity they brought to the Revolution and is the reason they remain in demand and writers and producers. Joni Mitchell is very much an influence on this recording lyrically and musically. There are times where the songwriting and vocals gets a bit lost in the layers of sound, but on the mostly acoustic numbers they manage to pull it all back and the music opens up as you are listening.
This album may not be something you enjoy if you’re looking for something that sounds like what’s being played on pop radio, but if you are open to a unique listening experience and give this album some time, you will really enjoy it.
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