Wonder (Wonder Allen-Smith) is the enigmatic artist known for her intimate storytelling live performances who delivers her words on target with her dense vocals. Accompanied by a poetical shadow on her voice, she moves in the world as a performer, poet, vocalist and painter and already left her mark in the European underground with her first album ‘Desdemona Died’, numerous performances, her art and distinct sultry vocals.
‘Notebook Living’ is the long awaited second album .After packing her suitcase full of lyrics, she ventured up North in 2007 to work with some of Manchester’s finest underground musicians. The highly hypnotizing tracks Greed Machine and Tendril were created with sound artist and inventor Spencer Marsden who works under the name Mild Man Jan (Switchflicker Records) and normally spends his time on artistic music-making contraptions. Both ‘Tendril’ and ‘Greed Machine’ have managed to make industrial sounds sounding more than sensual. After a week in Manchester Wonder bumped into leftfield musician, producer and ex-Bandit Queen member Janet Wolstenholme, working under the name ‘The Present Occupier’ and within weeks they created somewhat of a slow ‘waltz macabre’ on married life with the French flavoured ‘When I swing my skirt’. From the haunting dark ‘Family Ties’ produced by one of the tightest jazz drummers in the UK and gifted electronic producer in his own right ‘Danny Dubble D’ (2020vision, Winding Road, Baker St., 3rd Ear), to the odd ball deep bass track about obsessive love ‘Think Breathe or Blink’ made with outsider DJ Aardvarck (Rushhour, Barkers and Amsterdam’s Rednose District), ‘Notebook Living’ is an album dense with distinct flavours. The track ‘A night like this’ produced by Clive Hunte has a sudden shift into world music as it chants and draws you in, as Wonder heartily recites lyrics for the unfolding of a better world. Clive Hunte also stamped his mark on the jazz infused track ‘Dreaming Grace’ which seems to play with the contradiction of a tender Bossa track, yet lyrically evokes surreal imagery that seems more tailored to a David Lynch film. Clive Hunte’s musical talent and bass sessions have been featured on Lilly Allen’s album ‘Aright Still’ to Uncut sessions and appearing on Mr. Scruff’s personal productions.
Press, radio play and attention>
Long running radio front man Tom Robinson launched one of the tracks from the album in his show on the British eclectic BBC6 radio show: 'introducing...'. Our label was pleasantly surprised when he chose to support Wonder's album out of hundreds of newcomers even further and played the same track in his final compilation at the end of the year titled: “the Best of… 'introducing'...” Different tracks have been played on DJ Mojo's eclectic New York radio show: Breakthru radio, on the French underground radio show 'Babes in Boyland', on VPRO radio (Dutch alternative national radio), The Other Woman on Resonance FM and supported in Belgium by DJ Morpheus. As a highly present performer Wonder released the album at the end of 2008 with an experimental music live set in Amsterdam at the Paradiso with musicians Jim Parris and musician/producer Mild Man Jan.
The Amsterdam Weekly labelled her as: …“... a force of nature.”
From www.down-tempo.net (French review) > 4.5 out of 5 stars> (Translated)…“One must speak about the climate of the environment with regards to this work, more than referring to any kind of formatted song titles. The concept of this album doesn’t seem to belong anywhere else in a defined vocabulary. The free explorative sensuality of her voice is supported by Aardvarck, Mild Man Jan and it offers us its directness, including interludes and parts that fit delicately with an absence of structure. Recalling Leila with her Warp debut, Wonder appears introvert in her writing with a certain crudeness. Notebook Living holds its ground more like a log book than any kind of expected intimate pink candy diary.”
From Thegap.at (Austria) (Translated) > 3 stars out of 5 > “The artwork made me expect more of a front person with some poems as a leading factor. Surprisingly the lyrics and the sounds blended incredibly well musically and it was a pleasant surprise to find so many musicians contributed and the CD sounding like a coherent whole.”
Statemagazine.nl (Holland) (Translated): “Her former performances as a poet and vocalist and her previous album Desdemona Died don’t give away any of the secrets to this new masterpiece. The recognition of Notebook Living as one album is defined solely by her vocals. The album, with contributions by producers Mild Man Jan, The Present Occupier, Danny Dubble D, Clive Hunt and Amsterdam’s DJ Aardvarck is explained by her as a pallet of tastes that is connected to my writing and my voice.”
Passionate Magazine (Holland) (Translated): …“Where darkness and structure raises it’s head, Notebook Living becomes strongest lyrically and musically. Like in the track Family Ties, where the harsh grimm world infiltrates the intimacy of a family home, with dark laughing strings, an innercity hiphop beat and encouraging horns: “Daddy dear I know you’re blue/ All that haunts you haunts me too.”
Please also check out our previous release on CD Baby – Desdemona Died -
& one of her short films by copy pasting: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1of_XjInIEc into your browser. Thanking you kindly for all interest.