Review: Joanna Wallfisch’s travels result in unique album

Joanna Wallfisch, “Far Away from Any Place Called Home” (Joanna Wallfisch)

Songstress, poet and darn good cyclist Joanna Wallfisch draws from both disappointment and wonder on her latest album. The emotions chronicle a west coast road trip and result in “Far Away from Any Place Called Home,” a curious mix of jazz and spoken word.

The London-born singer-songwriter takes flight on the opening track “When We Travel,” her voice gliding and never forced along its journey as she reflects on a 1,154-mile bicycle trip to Los Angeles from Portland, Oregon. Listeners are given a glimpse of the exquisite vocal control and range Wallfisch has at her disposal.

There’s much experimentation in play here. Wallfisch spins together a glorious mix, light in delivery but layered with everything from bass clarinet to Mellotron. The album is interspersed with spoken word gems like “Distance of Time” as well as a voicemail and conversation with an Uber driver. One day she saw a large flock of birds, and that gave us “Ballet of Birds,” a dramatic soaring track busy with intricate piano and elaborate drumming.

Wallfisch excels in keeping these disparate bits and pieces connected through storytelling. It’s almost like an audiobook that also happens to have really good music in it.


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