As everybody in the Portland music scene knows, Jameson Wandling is a first-rate songwriter, a gruffly sweet singer, a sonic archivist with comprehensive knowledge of adventurous music from the ’70s, and a multi-instrumentalist of considerable daring and imagination. He’s also a fine judge of artistic character. In The Conditionals, his band, he’s surrounded himself with some of the best players in a town famous for its enterprising, idiosyncratic musicians. Oregon folk-rocker Sam Densmore – a big Jameson supporter – engineered and co-produced Small Doses, the acclaimed 2017 album from The Conditionals.
For “Wasting Your Love,” the lead single from his upcoming project of the same name, Wandling has collaborated with Portland illustrator Amy Kuttab, whose debut graphic novel Urstory was cited as one of the best comics of 2016 by contributors to Comics Journal. Kuttab’s animated clip for “Wasting Your Love” is full of the same wonder, mystery, and wistfulness that’s present in all of the Conditionals’ songs.
It’s a natural match. Both Kuttab and Wandling are true independents, pursuing singular visions in personal, deeply emotional styles of their own devising. No one who has ever seen a Kuttab strip or illustration would ever mistake her work for anybody else’s; the same can be said about Wandling’s records, each of which has its own particular character, but all of which bear the stamp of their creator. Wandling’s music draws from the Americana, folk, and classic rock traditions, but how the Conditionals combine, stretch, and pull apart, their influences is wholly their own. “Wasting Your Love” is a ruminative guitar rocker, but it’s one with a dangerous psychedelic undertow. These may seem like still waters at first, but the undercurrents here are likely to sweep you off your feet.
As for Amy Kuttab, she does many things well: painting, storytelling, art teaching. However, animation may be her greatest strength, and the “Wasting Your Love” clip represents the fullest flowering of her talents yet. Her illustrations are simultaneously intriguing and comforting, and when they’re set in motion, as they are here, they pull the viewer into a colorful, mesmerizing, and fertile universe. In the kaleidoscopic video, the seasons change in spectacular style around the trunk and branches of a single tree. There are fat, happy fairies in the branches, and cartoon bees buzz around the bark and lovers congregate around the roots to catch the falling leaves.