October 23, 2003

Test Spin: Wilshire

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Americans are suckers for musical matrimony. And why wouldn’t we be with time-tested standards like Sonny and Cher’s cover of “I Got You Babe,” Ashford and Simpson’s “Solid,” or The Captain & Tennille’s “Muskrat Love?” We love to love and we love it when a couple —- preferably married —- sings about love because it reminds us how much we love love.

We even love it when monogamous musicians sing about other stuff. Remember Carly Simon and James Taylor’s version of “Mockingbird?” We’re a very tolerant audience. We’ll give almost anything a chance. But, we may have to give Wilshire (rhymes with fire), the latest in the canon of singer/songwriter/husband/wife acts, a few go-rounds in the court of public opinion before a verdict’s rendered. Most dueters share some sort of chemistry, a quality that the Wilshires don’t exude musically. This twosome sounds more manufactured than made for each other.

As tradition dictates, Mrs. Wilshire’s haunting vocals dominate New Universe with Mr. Wilshire focusing on production and holding down the choruses. But Lori’s vocals aren’t haunting in a good way. With its motley orchestration and refreshingly thoughtful and abstract lyrics, the album brilliantly coalesces the bewitching and the crude. And you’ll tremor in fear wondering just how Lori’s hollow belting will make or break the next cut.

Wilshire’s definitely on to something, just not yet. If anything, New Universe, reminds us just how pretty music can be — minus the singing.

Archived article by Justin Finch