Perhaps it isn’t such a bold prediction based on the quality of this release, but I expect Wave 21 will be around for years to come. The Canadian based country rock outfit are solid and often all around inspired, but they are particularly notable for the presence of sisters Mary-Lynn and Emmy-Lou Doroschuk, a songwriting tandem responsible for penning each of the ten tracks on the band’s debut collection. Their talent is DNA driven; the band’s bassist and violin player on this release, Stefan Doroschuk, is Mary-Lynn and Emmy-Lou’s father, a former member of Men Without Hats, and encouraged the sisters’ early musical development by rewarding the young girls ten dollars for each melody or song they created. As a result of this early motivation and wood-shedding their craft, the Doroschuk siblings come off as impressively polished songwriters from the first.
This polish doesn’t announce itself with immense fanfare. Instead, songs like the opener “Ya Ya Ya” illustrate it subtly. Though the lyrics aren’t entirely sun-streaked joyful, the song has an irrepressible air and Mary-Lynn’s singing easily matches its energy. She has a canny knack for phrasing reaching far beyond her years, further testament to how hard she’s worked to hone her chosen craft since a young age. One of Wave 21’s key musicians, lead guitarist Nick Rivera, turns in a particular key performance for this song. “Here We Go”, the album’s second cut, is similar to the first track in some respects, but Wave 21 opts for dispensing with the electric guitar flourishes and rumble we heard with “Ya Ya Ya” in favor of an energetic acoustic guitar attack. It has, undoubtedly, one of the best choruses you’ll hear on an album full of such strong suits, but the commercial appeal of the tune is just as key to its potential success.
“It’ll Be One of These Days” is another of those songs with likely large commercial appeal. Despite the maturity and hard-won wisdom shining through, Mary-Lynn dispatches the vocal with a lot of empathy and youthful vigor while the backing vocals, a consistent highlight of the band’s debut, punctuate things quite nicely. “The Fun Times” is another winner with its deliberate pacing, surprising musical turns, and a band performance that’s every bit as committed as what we hear from another stellar Mary-Lynn vocal. It’s one of the album’s longer songs as well, one of only two running over four minutes, but Wave 21 confidently extends themselves in these moments and come up with memorable tunes.
Many fans and listeners will flock to the tune “Catch Me” and much of the credit should be ascribed to Stefan Doroschuk’s violin contributions. The instrument, essentially, acts as a second vocalist for the song and its “duet” with Mary-Lynn’s voice, as well as secondary vocals, with spectacular results. The clean, unvarnished simplicity of “Set Me Free”, the album’s briefest tune, doesn’t make it a lesser number than the other nine tunes but, instead, serves up another side of Wave 21’s musical character without upsetting the album’s balance. It definitely has a distinctive sound, particularly with the production effects surrounding the vocals, but it plays fully in lockstep with the other tracks. “Far Away”, the debut’s concluding track, shows listeners another example of how the band’s songwriting excels integrating their strong verses with climatic choruses underlining the ocean of feeling behind each of the band’s songs. Wave 21 will make a mark with this fine debut album.