Eerie Wanda isn’t a person, but rather the name given to the relentlessly memorable recorded results of an album delivered by Croatian/Dutch singer-songwriter Marina Tadic, with a little help from her (incredibly talented) friends, including (but not limited to) the phenomenal rhythm section of Jacco Gardner’s band.
While the word “eerie” isn’t the adjective that springs to mind most readily when listening to “Hum,” there are several others eager to take its place – beautiful, striking and unforgettable among them. Throughout the album, Eerie Wanda displays a somewhat magical ability of using somewhat standard song structures as the skeletons of their sound, but replacing the dead marrow of those bones with a unique and enlivening mixture of dizzy joy and sparkling sonic lucidity.
It’s clear there’s something remarkable about Eerie Wanda and “Hum” from the very beginning, with the ringing chords of “Happy Hard Times” serving as a momentarily prelude to Tadic’s opening declaration, “Everyday, I watch in silence / How you walk through the fields of diamonds.” Tadic’s voice is as central as anything else to the album’s success; it’s a two-toned, barely-accented gem of sweetness and melancholy, a distant cousin (somehow) to both Hope Sandoval and “I Am the Cosmos”-era Chris Bell. These comparisons necessarily fall short, of course, and are meant more to indicate some sense of emotional resonance, of which Eerie Wanda would seem to possess an unlimited supply. But Tadic’s voice is compelling and consistent throughout the album, both sturdy and sympathetic, the ideal vehicle to carry the band’s often-ornate brocades of sound.
“Hum” undoubtedly benefits from the musical contributions delivered by a positively note-perfect backing band, parts of which has provided similarly shimmering sound enhancement for Jacco Gardner. Here, the band plays almost indescribably well, as tight and together as anything you’re likely to hear this year. The title-track, in particular, boasts a “Wrecking Crew”-worthy accompaniment, with a walking bass-line and leisurely, graceful guitar giving the song a brightness unmatched.
The more we think of it – and the more we listen to it – perhaps there is something eerie about “Hum” in particular and Eerie Wanda in general. How else to explain this relatively out-of-nowhere collection of songs, each so note-perfect and note-worthy, yet each one different from the last? “Hum” is an album as nesting doll: hand-crafted, elaborate yet easily understood, mesmerizing and defined by surprises. – Ryan Muldoon, revoltoftheapes.com