Joanna McGowan’s “Wasteland” is a Song About Conflicted Feelings About the Places that Raised You

Joanna McGowan, photo courtesy the artist

Joanna McGowan sounds like she’s walking through a fog-enshrouded setting on her new single “Wasteland.” Ethereal melodies, hazy synths and minimalistic rhythms swirl around her incandescent voice until the tempo picks up giving the impression that McGowan is running through the fog to get free of the memories of a place that has changed beyond recognition but whose influence has left an indelible impression on her mind. One hears a tone of bittersweet affection for the “wasteland” of the song and she sings of feel of comfort in being there because it reminds her of how far she has come even if she’s experiencing a setback in life. Like going back to your hometown, which many of us think of as a cultural wasteland, or the environment in which you were raised after you’ve had a taste of something that nourishes your spirit a little more than the rustic familiarity of a place you’ve outgrown but which know all too well. The line “Nothing changes in the wasteland, time moves but the stillness remains” is telling because who hasn’t felt stuck somewhere in life only to go out into the bigger world in search of the stimulation you’re not getting where you came from? McGowan, though, in the song deftly explores the conflicted feelings while choosing liberation and giving those parts of the song the dramatic up-sweep in tempo and emotional richness. Listen to “Wasteland” on Spotify. The single is the first of four songs on McGowan’s forthcoming EP.