By: Alexandra James (Tonemill Guest Writer)
Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, guitarist, and producer Peter Wise offers up a soulful ballad that recounts the melancholy tale of femme fatale “Methadone Joan”. Wise explains that the tune is about “the struggle to let go of someone”, and I believe him. He says that under routine circumstances he would potentially try and “hide a song like this under layers of production”. I appreciate that he did not, I think it would have cheapened the greatest strength of this tune – the veracity and genuine emotional journey.
Wise’s imperfect but charming vocals are delivered with a sentimental lilt and ring with a sincerity reminiscent of Jeff Buckley as he tells the story of Methadone Joan through vocal frys and thoughtful lyrics. As someone who has fallen prey to an addiction or two myself, I am always wary of songwriters who tackle this subject since it has the potential to sound contrived and forced. I’m glad to say that Wise does not, there is integrity in his writing and delivery.
The ascending guitar break beginning at 3:30 reminds me of the feeling of trying to speak while simultaneously trying not to cry. The pitch in your voice raises higher and higher as your throat closes up and the tears inevitably spill out anyway. The guitar emulates this beautifully. This pause from the vocals is a smart decision and allows the listener to ruminate about the character Wise has created. Do we love Methadone Joan? Do we hate her? Do we understand her, need her, refuse her? I’m glad that Wise never gives us a definitive answer.
Wise has delivered a powerful and reliable song with an emotional depth that captivates listeners. He has achieved a great feat as a songwriter: writing a tune that evokes both sympathy and empathy from his audience. We feel for him and we feel for ourselves and our own, personal “Methadone Joan”.
Listen for: 1:56 as Wise pleads while delivering the lyrics “I woke up a week later / Coughed up blood from broken ribs / Cried “anybody come, / And get me out of here” ” with a truly heartbreaking earnestness. It’s enough to make even the most heartless of bitches shed a tear into their 3rd tequila. (Trust me, I would know.)
Best listened to: with your addiction of choice – whether it be a person, a substance, or a memory.
ABOUT OUR GUEST WRITER:
Alexandra James is a 25 year old writer and musician based in Brooklyn. Her passions include writing honest love songs, growing jalapeños, and powerful female energy. She can’t stand cringe-worthy tattoos, Karens, and the year 2020. In addition to loving words, she is a tequila enthusiast, and enjoys using both when writing and reviewing music.