It’s somewhat strange to think of music as having a fixed, physical utility. I don’t question its social purpose, or its ability to shape cultural modes, but to think of a song as a tool — something one can wield, like a hammer or a spade — isn’t necessarily intuitive. Typically, we like to think of music as having a loftier, more indefinable purpose.
That said, “Wonder”, the heady new single from Melbourne-via-Vancouver singer/songwriter Meiwa, releases tension and anxiety in my body the way that a wrench pries loose stubborn, rusted bolts. The effect is reliable, immediate, and feels literal; it’s a cause/effect relationship I can routinely perform through the act of pressing play.
Meiwa is the moniker of Kristie McCracken, a Vancouver native who recently relocated to Melbourne, Australia to pursue her music. While living in Vancouver, she earned a degree in Music Therapy at Capilano University. Defined as “the skillful use of music and musical elements […] to promote, maintain, and restore mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health”, it’s not difficult to see how McCracken’s experience in this field has informed her own art, and how “Wonder” achieves its restorative qualities. Every element of its composition feels expressly employed to soothe or ameliorate a beleaguered psyche.
Despite this design, “Wonder”’s utility does not turn it into something to simply be used, discarded, or set aside. On the contrary, it is deeply resonant and teems with life. Over crystalline guitar lines, McCracken ponders the dissolution of an intimate relationship and tries to reconcile past memories with current realities. The production is feather light, highlighting McCracken’s warm, soulful delivery that is occasionally punctuated by tasteful harmonies.
Though there is a melancholic, vulnerable ache behind every note, “Wonder” is a song that confronts the firestorm of emotions that accompany sadness with serene honesty. It’s this honesty that I find so profoundly calming. McCracken clearly understands how music can be a tool of healing in other people’s lives, but it is nevertheless impressive to hear the results of her own personal process with music’s most therapeutic aspects.