From the stars and stripes to a star in her own right, WŸNN – née Paget Shand – is hitting the ground running with the release of her first EP, Here. WŸNN was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest but by eighteen had relocated to New York City to sing at the Apollo, earn a vocal degree from The New School, and has since spent ten years belting the National Anthem at Madison Square Garden and LA’s Staples Center.
All that practice hitting the big notes has set WŸNN up nicely to show off some vocal chops on her debut, one that has some mainstream legs beneath it. Opening track, “WhŸ Don’t U Love Me?,” starts as a pretty electro-pop track, a slow-build of electronics up to a beat drop. There’s an interesting mix of heavy EDM bass and radio-friendly production. WŸNN’s vocals are allowed to shine, fluctuating from breathy to big and soaring, between Chromeo-like keys and a danceable beat.
“Wanna Weekend” takes a more R&B-influenced route, a sexier slow grind of a party track. Lyrics like “Nobody parties anymore, all work and no play, make me a sad girl,” and “I cannot wait, nobody parties like I wanna party with you,” are a perfect going-out warmup, or sweeping come down. There’s some kind of modulation on her voice on parts of the track that pushes it even further into the electronic realm, showing a range of where she might go from here.
Halfway into the five track EP WŸNN gets a little deeper. “What I Dare” seems to carry the weight of some growing pains against a laid-back beat. “Broken Deep” takes this theme even further. The down-tempo tracks are wrapped in snapping, swirling melodies that let WŸNN’s voice breathe. With waves of electro-pop and melancholy romance, her voice resides in the camp of pop singers that includes Jennifer Lopez, Zendaya, and Tori Kelly.
And then closing track “Run Into You” hits the high notes. This is where you get WŸNN’s full-fledged vocals. Right from the start she’s going for it. The infectious, catchy, track is like a sunny day drive with the top down. It’s wistful and poppy, and simple enough you can sing along. There’s also some interesting jazz instrumentation in there, so feel free to get your groove on.
Overall, WŸNN’s debut does exactly what a debut EP should. She’s showing off her range, testing waters, seeing what sticks. It’s a solid start in the wide open pop landscape, especially with the vocal twists and turns she’s capable of.