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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Review: Wendy & Lisa - White Flags Of Winter Chimneys

Wendy & Lisa - White Flags Of Winter Chimneys
2008, Girl Bros.

Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman are consummate professionals. The childhood friends each the daughters of in-demand session musicians, and their work together over their career points to a love of quality music. The duo’s big break came in 1980, when Lisa Coleman was invited into Prince’s touring band. In 1983 she recommended her friend Wendy Melvoin as a replacement for a departing member. The Revolution was born, and for better or worse, Wendy & Lisa’s collective life has never been the same. These days Wendy & Lisa spend much of their professional energy scoring television shows such as NBC’s Heroes, Fox’ Virtuality and Showtime’s Nurse Jackie. Nevertheless, the duo found time to release White Flags Of Winter Chimneys in 2008. White Flags isn’t quite what you’d expect from the former heart and soul of The Revolution, but I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

White Flags Of Winter Chimneys opens with the ethereal Balloon, a haunting and lovely musical dream. More ambience than structure, Balloon is almost neurotically psychedelic. Invisible is a great mellow pop song with just a big of swagger to it. Invisible recollects an old relationship in a mix of longing and empowerment. Ever After retreats into the ambient nature found on Balloon in a song that deals with mortality and desire in unexpected ways. Salt & Cherries finds Wendy & Lisa breaking out of the mellow mold with the inspiration of MC5. The mix of Rock and Dance sounds matches the sexual tension in the lyrics in a song short on subtlety.

Niagra (sic) Falls is a mid-tempo rocker that is a pleasant listen that just seems to run short on energy. The ambient theme tries to sneak back in here but the big bass line drives it away like a breeze drives away the mist. You And I is a Moment. Listening to this song you hear Wendy & Lisa and all of the qualities that got them a recording contract in the first place: Gorgeous voices; inventive, heartfelt songwriting and a keen sense for melody. As I said, You And I is a Moment. I suggest you check it out and enjoy it. White Flags Of Winter Chimneys is a highly poetic watercolor in song. It's gorgeous but loses the energy that Wendy & Lisa have built up thus far. The album closes out with Sweet Suite (Beginning At The End), an eight-and-a-half minute composition in classical form mixing pop, classical and new age themes. Sweet Suite is in turns beautiful, maddening and boring. The next effect is positive, but it does drag significantly in places.

White Flags Of Winter Chimneys isn't so much a return to form for Wendy & Lisa as it is a new direction. Pop and rock elements mix with classical, new age and esoteric sounds to create new sounds and experiences. The songwriting itself is mixed, at times getting bogged down in time and heaviness of sound, but overall it's a positive experience. White Flags Of Winter Chimneys is recommended for fans of mellow rock, or esoteric easy listening folks such as Enya.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

You can learn more about Wendy & Lisa at, where you can purchase a copy of White Flags Of Winter Chimneys in either traditional CD format or an expanded edition download (with four unreleased tracks).


Anonymous said...

enya?!! did you actually listen to the record? it appears that the album isn't perhaps what *you* expected. although i guess you kind of liked it?? who could tell. also, if the title on a work is printed on a cd or book, etc, eg. Niagra Falls, it shouldnt be qualified with a (sic) as that is what it is...poetry man.

Anonymous said...

Weird review, man. "Neurotically psychedelic"? What does that sound like? Ambient, mellow, new age, esoteric easy listening? I didn't get that impression from this album at all. It isn't Led Zeppelin, but it isn't anywhere near the kind of crunchy "music to do yoga by" you make it out to be. It pretty much rocks all the way through. The whole thing is a "Moment." Anyway, as the previous commenter said, it seems that you liked it overall. Comparing it to Enya, though... wrong, wrong, wrong.

Wildy said...

One of my favorite movies is Home For The Holidays. There's a line in that movie where the father, Henry Larson (played by Charles Durning) opines that opinions are like a certain portion of the human anatomy, "every one's got one and everyone thinks every body else's stinks" (paraphrasing).

The great thing about music is that it will be different things to different people. I appreciate that you don't like my opinion or my comparison, but it's how I heard it. I'm glad you hear it differently and I hope it works for you. :)

Be well.


Anonymous said...

Suite Sweet beautiful and boring at the same time..hmmm. It seems like you really had in your mind what you thought this cd was going to sound like and based your review on that. One thing I've learned from following their music career is to expect amazing musicianship and a new direction in music. I think the track White Flags of Winter Chimneys is one of their most haunting, creative tracks ever. Both of their voices have only gotten stronger and this cd has NOT left my player once since it's release. So I guess it's hard to tell if you liked it or not, I got dizzy from the praising, then in the same sentence shooting it down.