Wax Mannequin (aka Hamilton, Ontario’s Christopher Adeney) is many things
to many people. A lyricist, songsmith and self-effacing showman certainly, but
also a student of the human psyche, constantly finding fresh and interesting
ways to frame the people we are and the things we encounter.
All of that is gloriously displayed on the seventh Wax Mannequin album,
Have A New Name, the result of Adeney reuniting with producer Edwin
Burnett, with whom he made some of the first Wax Mannequin recordings in
the early 2000s. Working in a small east-end Hamilton industrial space
containing an array of vintage and modern gear, the pair—along with
percussionist Mark Raymond—crafted Have A New Name’s eight songs out of
semi-impromptu sessions that eventually expanded with the addition of grand
piano, gamba da viola, double bass and a 12 piece choir. The end product is
the most sonically ambitious Wax Mannequin album to date, and also
arguably the most powerful.
As an example, Adeney points to the album’s closing track “Longest Hour,”
an atmospheric travelogue that never lags over the course of its nearly nine
minutes. Other songs on Have A New Name such as “Basketball” and
“Squirmy Wormy” are rooted in whimsy, while the songs “Someone Fixed The
Game” and “People Can Change” display a maturity that signals Wax
Mannequin is indeed more than capable of reaching wider audiences without
sacrificing any of his edge.
With Have A New Name, Christopher Adeney has made a Wax Mannequin
album utterly necessary for this moment in time. Challenging and earthy, funny
and heartbreaking, in search of answers yet rooted in hard-earned wisdom.