Wise Jennings are a duo consisting of Melissa and Jeff from Lake Geneva, Wisconsin that released The Year Mama Tried. They also happen to be a couple. Suffice it to say they have had an on and off again relationship with music over the years. They met in a wedding band, got married, had success in their careers outside of music and had kids. There were periods where they weren't doing much in the musical world but that has changed over the last couple of years.
Their release The Year Mama Tried is a professionally recorded EP which showcases five original songs that mixes a blend of rock and folk for the most part. The songs aren’t the most inventive I have heard this year but the songs are well crafted with an obvious array of influences.
Up first is “Speakin' In Rhyme” which is pure Americana. They both handle vocal duties with Melissa’s vocals being the more prominent of the two. I thought it actually sounded good that way. It’s a well written song with catchy melodies. On top of that it’s dynamic and definitely starts to rock ever so slightly at points.
Lyrically, I thought they did a good job avoiding cringe worthy cliches that we have heard a million times before. Lines like “So you put away the ladder, give back the rope, think to yourself …find another road” were gold.
They have some more success with “Jumpin' River” which felt a little more single worthy while “Desperate Tone” is more somber, sparse and reflective. The vocals on “Desperate Tone” sound great and thought Melissa sounded especially good for the part. There was a comforting effect when she sings “rest your head.”
“Love Fix” has a bit more attitude and I liked it. The song has a ’70s flavor. It’s a little more edgy and I thought it worked. They close with “New Preachin'” where they both handle vocal duties. It may have been my favorite song and definitely had the characteristics of a closer you would hear at the end of the night.
The Year Mama Tried was a delightful listen. I’m glad they made the decision to return to the music that initially brought them together.
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