Wilshire - New Universe 
Music Disc Reviews Audio CD
Written by Dan MacIntosh   
Tuesday, 07 October 2003


New Universe
format: 16-bit Stereo CD
label: Columbia
release year: 2003
performance: 8
sound 8
reviewed by: Dan MacIntosh

This album could have easily been turned into schmaltzy Donnie and Marie kind of thing, but it wasn’t. It’s not too complicated, mind you, but it’s still quite good -- in a simplified sort of way. The melodies soar, the singing is spot-on and the production is filled with plenty of variety. Micah and Lori Wilshire, the pair that is Wilshire, make smart pop, and that’s nothing at all to be ashamed of.

When one normally thinks of pop music, aural images of all the latest hip-hop beats and sonics likely come to mind. But Wilshire’s brand of pop is much closer to that of a Beatles-influenced power-pop band than anything else. Such promise is suggested from the get-go here with the opener, “Special,” with its jangling guitars and Lori’s breathy vocals. Later, on “Nothing Left To Lose,” one hears a slow and insistent beat, with loping bass, group vocals and a big Byrds-style lead guitar solo to boot. So instead of turning Lori (the duo’s primary vocalist) into a hey-look-at-me!-diva, these musicians put the song and the sound first, which turns out to be the wisest move of all.

Lori Wilshire’s ability to take on various vocal personas also helps her cause greatly. “When,” with its stripped-down arrangement, finds her in a jazzy vocal mode. On “Fool For You, her vocals are high and wispy; kind of like Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer. With “I Know What You Did,” a guitar-led light rocker, she takes on an appropriately Gwen Stefani-like whiny-sounding tone. Lori is a chameleon singer, in the very best sense of that description.

Wilshire has a contemporary Christian past, but there is little that hints at such a religious history here. Instead, love and romance are the topics on the tips of their tongues. During “Without You,” they sing sadly, “I just keep on trying to live my life without you,” then angrily, “Summer won’t be hotter than the hell you put me through.” “Standing on the edge of my new universe,” is how the post-break-up mood is described on “Nothing Left To Lose.” The act also gets downright angry about infidelity in the self-explanatory “I Know What You Did.” This album is all about love, both the good and the bad of it.

The overly hip among us sometimes look down at pop as rock’s poor stepchild. But if quality is more important to you than your ultra-hip quotient, the ever-melodic Wilshire will sound mighty fine coming through your speakers.

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