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May 2024
Vol. 23, No. 8

CD Reviews


by Sandé LollisMay 2024

Released in late 2023, Seven Wishes was recorded at Pacific Beat Recording and BigRock Studios. The seven songs, in just under 26 minutes, make for a quick listen, but buckle up, as it’s jam-packed with high energy and lyric intensity. Lyricist Monica Sorenson on lead vocals and piano, and Rick Walker on guitars co-wrote the songs. The rest of the band members are Anthony Sarain on keyboards, saxophone, and flute; Bruce Paul Allen on bass; and Dave Fuller on drums. In addition to that fierce line-up, guests include the unparalleled Laura Chavez on lead guitar, Roger Friend on percussion, Larry Grano on drums, Yvonne Fuller on backing vocals, and Clair Allison on backing vocals and cello. Andy Machin co-produced, mixed, and mastered the project, and also contributed guitar, bass, keys, and vocals on various pieces.

“Missed the Boat” pulls me in right from the start with a deep and heavy bass line, followed quickly by saxophone riding upwards until a sliding stop that opens the door to lead vocals. She comes in strong and full of attitude: From the day I was born, they shoved destiny in my mouth, like a spoon full of sand with a crazy mom and a daddy I never had. From the day I was born, I knew I had to get the hell out of Phoenix, Arizona, if it’s the last thing I ever did. This song has a steady drive that doesn’t let up. The pre-chorus does the job of moving us along until the chorus breaks wide open with an unhookiest hook of a melody line that stays with me for hours: What if I missed the boat? What if my ship set sail? What if my time has come and gone without me? What if I missed the boat? What if my ship is sailing on the high blue sea? I’m gonna find me a crew and a captain that’s true, and a fleet that’s sure and seaworthy. Maybe it’s the lyrics that snag me. Those lines are desperate and wondering, yet just like she says in the opening verse, she owns her destiny. Sax comes in at 2:22 with the same opening line then slips into a smooth and purposeful solo to keep this thing moving right along. Lead and backing vocals do a sweet call and response in a fresh melodic and stylistic change at the bridge. Sorenson’s abilities are showcased dramatically as final choruses come back with sax and lead vocals, trading lines and building impressively in strength and expression. The sax screams out, and they skid to a stop.

Drums alone open “Don’t Take What’s Not Yours.” The organ joins in with one long thrumming note, Chavez on lead guitar strolls in seductively over the top. Sorenson sings: Throw down every ounce and pound you’ve got. Throw out every shady doubt or thought. Throw in every loss or win or struggle, put them in the box, take your fresh chance. The background vocals hit accent points with sass and boldness. When they get to the chorus, lead guitar opens up behind Sorenson to emphasize the statement: Don’t take what’s not yours, fly and be free. The topic is provocative and stirring. There is no need to hold onto your past or take on the hardships and problems of the world, or to blame yourself for those that don’t pertain to you. It is liberating yourself from yourself. At 1:41, lead guitar takes a welcome and extended solo that flows and changes and builds until the bass applies pressure near the end, then it all melts together at the bridge. Don’t take their lies on as yours. Don’t take their pain on as yours. Live your life, your singular life as yours, and fly, fly, fly, and be free. This proclamation is followed by another, shorter guitar solo at 2:43, exhibiting Pink Floyd tendencies. I squint my eyes and shake my head as she continues to play behind the last chorus. Sorenson blows the top off vocally, while Chavez is throwing in chunky chord strikes in between bending single notes. It’s expressive and gripping, right up to the point when they drop into silence.

Sorenson sings the first three lines of “Fool’s Wish” alone, except for guiro and light congas. Guitar, drums, and piano join her at the fourth line, accenting the downbeats. At first listen, this is a cheerful, bouncy tune, the backing vocals sparkle throughout. Yet surprisingly, the topic is that of ultimate loss. Did I see you at the bus stop? Were you there at the carwash, as I was passing by? Were you there at the station? Did I see you in the airport, out of the corner of my eye? Looking everywhere and every day I catch a glimpse. I suppose there are times when you do try to hold onto that something that just might change the course of reality. It’s a fool’s wish; I need a miracle to make it come true. Suffer a fool’s wish, like in the movie I saw with you. The one where the hero lives, the one where he promises to never go away again. It’s almost childlike, but as hopeful as that sounds, it hurts. At 2:15, the guitar solos are bright and tasteful, throwing in chords between single notes, building to a sustain that feeds into the repeated last two lines of the bridge, and then a key change for the last chorus.

The rhythm guitar spirals downward with each line on “Nowhere to Go,” and the effect supports the desperation in the lyrics: See the sea crash behind her eyes, and her soul drowning in the tide. The swells swallowing her voice. There are no words for this hurt too big to be heard. Jangly single-note accents pull me steadily along to the chorus, which is brighter, somehow hopeful, and really the point of it all. With a love that’ll never leave her side, and a hope that doesn’t know when to die. A heavy rock that needs to roll. Oh, this love, this love’s got nowhere to go. That last line is tremendous; it captures her state of mind perfectly. The hope can’t hold her, and she drops back into those darker chord progressions for another verse. Machin takes a guitar solo at 2:06; it is coarse and raw, making me grit my teeth. Together with suddenly expressive drums and big backing vocals, they carry us into the last chorus for the ending.

Three more songs are featured: the edgy opener “Wish on the Wild Side,” with a heavy rhythm guitar emphasis and big keys; “Burning to Be Free,” with a repeating almost “DOA” siren-like progression; and “If I Said” with a gem of a fresh and fluid guitar solo opening by Andy Machin.

A well-crafted album, I especially appreciate Sorenson’s thoughtful and compelling lyrics. Take the time to get to know the passion behind these Seven Wishes. I listened on Spotify, but they’ve got hard copy CDs available. Visit for all their latest.

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