Photography by: Sam Hanson
By: Hawken Miller
MeShell Wolf has been playing guitar for (about) seven years.
Growing up in the 90’s, Wolf got a lot of her inspiration from artists that focused their compositions around vocal harmonies: Fall Out Boy, Alanis Morissette, the Gin Blossoms, Matchbox 20 and Sheryl Crow. Now in 2018, nearly 30 years later, it’s been her own voice carrying her through performances in the Midwest and her own voice woven into her latest and first solo album, Wake Up.
That isn’t to say it’s only her voice. It’s the composition as a whole. Her smooth, throaty, angsty vocals complement the rhythmic strumming of her guitar. Wolf’s most captivating performances happen in a stripped down atmosphere; just her and her trusty guitar.
Give a listen to her record and you’ll get the same feeling you would as if you were listening to her live. The layered drums, bass, clean electric guitar and reverberating sound effects only add to her stripped down singer-songwriter style. That’s thanks to her friend across the Atlantic in Italy.
Wolf formed an unlikely alliance with Marco Brandino through the online collaborative platform called Bandhub. Brandino saw something in her music, and after collaborating on other projects, Brandino helped Wolf mix and master her freshman solo album Wake Up.
“We became email pen pals and started chatting, and he liked to work on his English,” Wolf said. “We still chat all the time, but we ended up saying…let’s just make a CD then, I want to put something out.”
It wasn’t always just Wolf and her guitar. When she first started off in music around 2011, she collaborated with an all-female trio called Mesdames Dulcet. In that setting they were able to incorporate layered harmonies into music that was more rock and pop than Wolf’s current alternative singer-songwriter vibe.
Mesdames Dulcet ended up dissolving, and between 2012 to 2017, she tried performing at different open mics alone, but it was hard without having the extra layers of music that a band could bring.
“I’m always reaching out to people to play with every chance I get, to fill that void.”
Wolf enjoys the group collaboration and felt like without a band, her performances were empty. However, she forced herself to go solo when plans to play with other bands fell through.
Now she’s touring around the country to promote her solo album. Playing solo showcases Wolf’s unique vocals with a hint of her intrepid personality and deeper overtones from her heavy guitar strumming.
“I follow my vocals, so if I’m not singing it’s hard for me,” Wolf said.
Lyrically, Wolf writes whatever is on her mind and it reflects in the introspective style of music that she performs.
“I guess it’s one of those, you write when you’re in a mood, and I always write when I’m in a bad mood,” she said. “It is what it is, and as I write, I just naturally keep doing that same style.”
Her music and individuality are unique to the music industry these days, and so too are the venues that she plays. Wolf is the first to say her music isn’t reflective of the late night scene, and instead prefers to play in more laid-back settings, such as outdoors on a patio or during happy hour.
Wolf is still relatively new to the process, only vigorously pursuing music since 2012, and is willing to learn everything she can while she tours and promotes her new album which was released this January.