Oregon Music News: Oregon’s all-genre music magazine since 2009


Wonderly's new album "Appropriate 'til Death" Finding a story in every moment of life

By BOB HOWARD //  When you listen to their newest album Appropriate ‘til Death Wonderly, Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk,find a story in every moment of life. The whole album is a musical exploration of earthly tales of wonder. 

Wonderly knows no limits to their repertoire.  With a delight in telling a story, when they put their talents to an idea, be prepared for anything, not the least of which is a smile.  They just released their newest album Appropriate ‘til Death. You would hardly know that seven of the eight songs on the record are covers. Their arrangements bring out and make room for the stories told in each song, almost as if they wrote the songs.

One thing that’s for sure when you listen to Wonderly, Jim Brunberg and Ben Landsverk, they find a story in every moment of life   The whole album is a musical exploration of earthly tales of wonder.  Tales of life and death, relationships, longing, reaching beyond the possible and the search for meaning. Their arrangements put the story first in each song on the album.

The record opens with their live recording of David Bowie’s “Life in Mars.”  In their hands, the song becomes a story to be told. The viola breaks between each verse lead us to the compelling question, “is there life on Mars?”

Every arrangement on the record shows us the layers of possibilities contained in any song. They encourage us to let our minds wander and to capture what we hear in our own musical wonderings. Scott Tuomi, Professor & Director of Choral Activities at Pacific University, says the music in this album “is clearly the work of sophisticated musicians with formidable musical gifts.  The harmonies are complex and rewarding.  The selection and the treatment of the source material shows an awareness of and respect for a tremendous variety of music.”

Their cover of Paul Simon’s “Heart and Bones” showcases their well synchronized harmonies that distinguishes their partnership in their sympathetic interpretation of a Paul Simon classic. Their arrangement of Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” is reminiscent of the Beach Boys because of their tight harmonies…as for the story told in the song, they leave us wondering if he who left his wife and kids might go back?

Jazz on the banjo and melodica reinterprets Thelonious Monk’s, “Well You Needn’t.” They cover Billie Elish’s “I’m Getting Older,” (aren’t we all.)  Followed by a klezmer-bluegrass inspired version of Supertramp’s “Breakfast in America.”

In the only original song on the record, “I Get a Kick,” they give us a Buck Owens like story of unrequited love. The record ends with a beautifully sensitive cover of “Their Hearts Were Full of Spring,” previously recorded Jimmie Rodgersthe Four Freshmenthe Lettermenthe Beach Boys, and many others. Indeed, Wonderly can do harmonies.

Our only disappointment of the whole recording is that they promised my editor a Pussy Riot cover. We hope it’s on their next record.

Be sure to check-out all their work on on Bandcamp and on Spotify. Including their themes and movie soundtracks.


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You two singing together are like Heaven on Earth 90% of the time... and the remaining 10% is learning how to get there... Amazing!

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