Cory Wong is quickly becoming one of our favorite guitarists in the live music scene. A frequent collaborator with fan-favorite minimalist funk ensemble, Vulfpeck, Wong is known for his pristine and rhythmically oriented lead guitar style, his animated performances, and his charming onstage demeanor. Outside of Vulfpeck, the guitarist keeps himself busy, recently announcing that he’ll release his sophomore solo album, The Optimist.
The Optimist features a wide range of collaborators, including friend and fellow Vulfpeck collaborator Antwaun Stanley, European star musicians like Marti Fischer and KATIS, and Prince‘s legendary horn section, The Hornheads. The album also contains a guest appearance from Ripe frontman Robbie Wulfsohn, who offers his strong vocals on the brand-new single “Light As Anything”. Premiered by Live For Live Music today, “Light As Anything” marks the second single and the first lyrical single released to fans as they eagerly await The Optimist‘s August 17th arrival date.
“Light As Anything” is a distinctly catchy tune, with a percussive and tight groove that carries across the song. Buoyed by Wulfsohn’s bright voice and the song’s feel-good lyrics, the song has an infectious positive energy, recalling the new album’s optimistic name. Midway through the song, “Light As Anything” lands in an initially psychedelic bridge, offering the band the opportunity to become a little more expansive, before Wulfsohn picks up where he left off with his crisp, happy-go-lucky vocals.
As Cory Wong explained to Live For Live Music in a statement,
This was a really fun tune for me to put together because it’s a tune I’ve had floating in my head for about a year now; I finally found the right way to put it together and the right singer to collaborate with for it. It started as a guitar riff with a melodic hook that wouldn’t leave my mind for a month. I had the rhythm section part all figured out in my head, and a few melodic ideas, but I got stuck.
I figured that the best way to get it finished was out of an imaginary deadline. So I booked a recording session and recorded the rhythm section tracks, knowing that I would do the vocal overdub later. Robbie was the first person that popped into my head as a vocalist/collaborator, because I had just finished producing the record for his band, Ripe. He’s got such a unique voice that might first be thought of as a “rock” style voice due to the raspy nature of his sound, but his tone works so great for pop and funk music as well.
His lyrics are very conceptual and have interesting twists and abstraction to them that really appeal to me, so I was excited when I got the text back saying, “Yeah man, I’m down for whatever! Let’s do it!” I sent him the rhythm-section tracks along with some melodic ideas and lyrical concepts, and he ran with it. We sent voice memos back and forth for a week honing in on the lyrics and melody, and then met up in L.A. to record the vocals on green screen, so I could overlay him on the video I did from the session. It was funny because he’d been working on this song for a few weeks at that point, but when I showed him the video from the session, he said, “Wait, what?! That’s two drummers?! I had no idea!”
It’s one of the first songs I recorded with the “palindrum” setup, which has a mirror image drumset played by two players, one right-handed (Steve Goold) and one left-handed (Petar Janjic). I feel like they worked together well to make it really feel like one kit with a fatter and wider groove. I love musical and production experiments like this because it really drives the creative energy for me—not only as an artist but also as a player in the room while we’re recording. Just when it felt like we had it figured out, we were done with the song. It felt very natural.
You can check out the Live For Live Music premiere of Cory Wong’s “Light As Anything” featuring Robbie Wulfsohn below. The song will appear on Wong’s upcoming sophomore solo album, The Optimist, which is due out on August 17th. If you like what you hear, you can pre-order the new album on Cory Wong’s website, with a limited run of LP pressings available.
Cory Wong ft. Robbie Wulfsohn – “Light As Anything”
Check out a list of Cory Wong’s upcoming tour dates below.
Cory Wong Upcoming Tour Dates:
Aug. 14 – Vienna, VA – Jammin Java
Aug. 15 – Charlottesville, VA – The Southern
Aug. 16 – Virginia Beach, VA – Shaka’s Live
Aug. 17 – Pittsboro, NC – The BIG What?
Aug. 18 – Asheville, NC – Taproom at Sierra Nevada
Aug. 19 – Knoxville, TN – The Concourse (at The International)
Aug. 21 – Atlanta, GA – Aisle 5
Aug. 23 – Nashville, TN – City Winery
Aug. 24 – Indianapolis, IN – HI-FI Indy
Aug. 25 – Fort Wayne, IN – Two EE’s Winery
Oct. 7 – Madrid, Spain – Sala Clamores
Oct. 10 – Cologne, Germany – Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld
Oct. 11 – Berlin, Germany – Gretchen
Oct. 13 – Den Haag, Netherlands – Mondriaan Jazz Festival
Oct. 14 – Stockholm, Sweden – Stockholm Jazz Festival
Oct. 16 – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Bitterzoet
Oct. 17 – Rotterdam, Netherlands – BIRD
Oct. 19 – Zurich, Switzerland – Moods
Oct. 20 – Fribourg, Switzerland – La Spirale
Oct. 21 – Milan, Italy – Blue Note
Oct. 25 – Live Oak, FL – Suwannee Hulaween
Nov. 17 – Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre