WILSHIRE - SECOND STORY (2000, WILSHIRE MUSIC)
Lori Wilshire - vocals, acoustic guitars
Micah Wilshire - vocals, electric guitars
The tale of husband and wife duo Wilshire's 'Second Story' is no ordinary yarn. Whereas severing ties with the relative safety net of a record label may be the end for some artists, for Wilshire it was a new beginning that spawned one of the best produced and most intelligently written pop-rock albums I have heard in a long, long time. Entirely self-written, self produced and self financed, 'Second Story' is so flawless in every department that you will be astounded it was recorded almost entirely in Wilshire's front room. It's phenomenally good modern pop-rock with an edge, diversity and artistic vibe that is instantly unforgettable.
It's clear that 'Second Story' is in a league of it's own from the moment the magnificent sassy rock of 'Fall' kicks things off in excellent fashion. Lori and Micah's twin vocal harmonies work surprisingly well here and throughout the rest of the album, with Lori's soaring range and Micah's understated voice seamlessly and effortlessly intertwining to create a unique and potent combination. One of the great strengths of 'Second Story' is Wilshire's eagerness to utilise a host of unusual and unfamiliar instruments and beats in the context of pop-rock. The delightful 'Be Yours' and the sophisticated balladry of 'All Been Said Before' are just two examples of experimentation which pay dividends. The latter makes refreshing use of muted trumpet whilst the formers slide guitar intro adds an extra element to a hook laden tune. Free from the corporate pressures of having to record a 'hit', Lori and Micah have penned a whole album full of great tunes. With an energetic and thoroughly modern vibe, 'Brave' is so much more than the ballad it appears to be. Tender and emotional, yet imbued with a devastatingly good melody and acoustic backbone, you'll struggle to find a song as fresh and Y2K as this. That is of course, unless you don't keep on listening. 'Ordinary' oozes the assurance and musicianship of a duo completely at ease with each other's immense talent; 'Tonight' slows the tone down with a delicately beautiful arrangement and vocal performance from Lori, while 'Not Alone' is the perfect example of a modern day pop rock song. With the right amount of moody, restrained and rocking guitars behind a solid rhythm and a few William Orbit
style effects thrown in for good measure, 'Not Alone' could be a massive tune for Wilshire, if given the chance. 'Shame' rocks out impressively and the diversity continues with the powerful, poetic texture of 'The Prayer', and the piano led gem 'Angelina'. All display an admirable gift for lyrical storytelling and natural hooks, which by now are Wilshire trademarks.
Independent records aren't meant to be like this. The myth is of badly produced, sloppily written albums that remain independent for a reason. There's nothing to suggest that on this album. Instead, it's not a fairy tale to suggest that Wilshire has the talent, songs and commercial edge to be huge, and if they manage to achieve that, it really would be a happy ending to a marvellous 'Second Story'.
02 Be Yours
06 Not Alone
07 The Prayer
08 All Been Said
Wilshire - 2000 Second Story
Wilshire - 2000 Interview with Lori and Micah Wilshire
Wilshire - 2003 New Universe
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