We weren’t familiar with the material of Canadian singer/songwriter Wanting, a woman that moved there to study from China at the age of 16, and has since found her passion for music. Wanting’s team reached out to us a few months ago, and helped us get better acquainted with her work and although it’s a bit overdue, we now have a review of her album Everything In the World. So now the only question is, does the album leave you wanting more, or just wanting? Sorry, the pun was irresistible.
Upon initial listen, it was a bit interesting trying to identify what kind of singer Wanting intends to be. Although she definitely presents herself as a singer/songwriter, her material ranges from acoustic ballads to Pop/Rock to Indie Folk-Pop and everything in between. While on one hand this offers variety, it’s execution is a bit uneven at times.
A positive example is the opener, “Life is Like a Song“. It starts off in the style of indie-folk, reminiscent of Yael Naim’s “New Soul”, before morphing into something slightly grungier and taking on a Pop/Rock vibe. It comes off a bit odd at first, but ultimately it works. On the other hand, Wanting goes a darker route with the song “Anxiety“, and although it’s clear what she was trying to express, the song with it’s wet drum loops and moody keys, ends up feeling too artificial. None of the tracks on this release are an offensively bad listen, but some are definitely more forgettable than others.
Singles like the title song, “Everything in the World“, and “Star in You“, and “Drenched” are all sleepy listens that fail to capture my undivided attention with their generic and dated sound. They just don’t stand out enough. I find if worth mentioning that it’s when Wanting keeps it simple does she shine the brightest. Her ballad “Hand Hold” has only two instruments and it allows the subtleties of her voice to come through brilliantly. It’s easily my favorite song of the album. “You Exist in My Song” (Demo Version) is another great example of ‘less is more’. Sure it’s less refined than the studio version, but it’s much more raw and authentic and makes me glad that it was included on the tracklist. Plus it was sung in the singer’s native language of Chinese, eliminating some of the hesitancy I sensed in some of the English tracks.
Wanting has an airy voice, but it does have substance when necessary. It’s an admirable instrument, but it would seem that she is still trying to find and hone a style to call her own. At times you can hear some Sarah Mclachlan, other times it’s Lilly Allen or One Fine Frenzy, and there are even moments of Joan Osborne and other 90’s female Pop/Rock staples. Some would argue it shows versatility, but I felt it came off more as an experiment in trying to establish a vocal identity. The other interesting note I had is that her Chinese songs appear to feel much less inhibited, and Wanting seems to be more emotionally connected to the lyrics. I say this as a non-Chinese speaker but I believe her unique phrasing is a result of English being a second language. This is both a pro and a con – depending on the song.
In the end, I’d say this is a solid release. It shows promise and potential for Wanting. Hopefully as time goes on, she’ll learn to become more focused and intentional in how she presents herself. If she learns to effectively tap into her voice more consistently, while making the best of her unique phrasing, I think she could become an artist that’s hard to ignore. In the mean time we get to experience the journey of witnessing her find her identity as an artist, for better or worse. If you’re looking for a something to listen to on a laid back, leisurely evening – give this one a stream. There are certainly a few gems sprinkled throughout that you should appreciate.
Must Listen: Life is Like a Song; Hand Hold; You Exist in My Song Demo Version
a-Tunes Score: 7/10