According to their Facebook page, Wasted Johnny’s is “a strong cocktail of Blues based Rock’n’Roll with a Grunge grit. Drink with(out) caution.”
Using this metaphor, I’d say that Angie‘s voice is the sweetener in this cocktail. It’s warm, not piercing but melds really well with the song and stands out without being too sharp. At times it is softer with a whispering quality and yet other times, like in the namesake of the EP, it is emotionally powerful, reminiscent of older Korean ballads.
The first track on Voice was an immediate addition to my monthly playlist. It was my first introduction to the band and I was drawn to them because of the mix of Angie and the song. In “Upcycling” she asks if her heart can beat again. But her questioning isn’t over a track that is stressed; instead, the instrumental is sunny and warm. The song wraps with the vocalist declaring that her heart can beat again and that she can live again.
For an overall cheerful song that wasn’t too saccharine, I went into the rest of the EP expecting something summery. Instead, the track after “Upcycling” is dark and melancholic. Interestingly, it is also the namesake of the EP: “Voice.” Dramatic and filled with orchestral moments, the vocalist takes us on a journey from more gentle singing to forceful almost shouting. It’s a track that would be incredible live with an orchestra, band, and modern dancers.
The following tracks after “Voice” introduce some more modern instrumentation to the mix, namely some choice synths. “Breath” is coy with a bouncy synth then gets heavier in the chorus. Angie has some fun with her breath, especially in the pre-chorus which is literally her singing “ah” rhythmically before hitting the chorus that features a zingy organ-like sound.
“Easy and easy” is the most upbeat track and stands out from the rest of the EP for how glittery it is. I personally wish the synth they chose was less shiny or less prominent; it felt too far from the sonic palette the band had chosen to use and came off as comical.
The EP wraps with a more upbeat version of its starting track. At first glance, when I saw that it would be the night version and considering that it was closing out the EP, I assumed that it would be something closer to a lullaby. Instead, it is a more up-tempo version of the original with hints of city pop. But coming off of “Easy and easy,” it works.
If “Voice” is to be seen as a cocktail, I’d say that overall it goes down smoothly. There’s a good mix of things in it and the flavor, especially Angie, is compelling. And at a brief glance at previous works by the band, it seems like they keep expanding their sound beyond their roots in blues and rock and roll. The fact that they had a more ambitious, orchestral ballad in this release is impressive.