The Wandering Off are much more than just another husband/wife musical duo. It definitely isn’t a new phenomenon – many musical partnerships are formed on the basis of matrimony. Emily and Kyle Corner are just debuting under this moniker, but their single “Hey There” sounds like they’ve been making music for their own entertainment and edification for a long time. There’s an ease to the song’s delivery, both vocally and musically, that comes across like a seasoned musical unit rather than two performers feeling their way in new terrain.
Their influences are clear. Self-professed models such as Gin Blossoms are clear in the music, particularly the bright yet surprisingly rugged sound of the arrangements. “Hey There” embraces a big chorus and there’s subtle use of dynamics that further strengthens the track. Those dynamics make low-key use of a guitar bite without ever overindulging unwieldy guitar solos or pointless instrumental breaks. Despite the lack of such customary elements, “Hey There” delivers a fully satisfying sonic experience.
Newcomers to the duo are plentiful and many of them, like me, may assume going in that they are limited instrumentally. The Wandering Off, however, wisely fills out “Hey There” with a full band performance rather than serving up a perhaps cliched acoustic piece. It’s easy to appreciate the rock trappings of the duo’s single when such obvious attention is paid to striking the right musical note.
Blake Manning’s drumming provides the cut with a consistent pulse. He has a tight grasp of the band’s sound, as well, and gives listeners a punctuating percussive performance well suited to the song’s aims. He measures his contributions enough, however, that they never turn the spotlight away from the heart of the track. The focus remains on the Corners from the beginning and the song’s better off for it.
I am a big fan of how the song pays off on its promise. It never strains for effect and has a natural tone that sounds like the song lingered in the ether waiting for them to snatch it up and record it for listeners. Experienced music devotees will likely know where the song’s going with a single listen. It doesn’t undermine the experience, however. The pleasure comes from hearing how expertly they arrive there.
Their relationship has husband and wife has an undoubted impact on the result. I don’t think it’s overt, but there’s little question in my mind that their union deepens the song. Emily and Kyle share an unity of artistic purpose ensuring there isn’t even a second of discomfort hearing the song. It’s polished without sacrificing a note of authenticity.
Picking this as a single is an astute move. It has the right combination of broad-based appeal and individuality for introducing The Wandering Off and sets the stage for the likely follow-up singles. The Corners distinguish themselves from the pack while keeping intense fidelity to their roots. It’s an impressive balancing act we hear during “Hey There” and there’s no reason to expect it will end.