Wisely, Wisely

Barry Walters

By Barry Walters

on 04.22.11 in Reviews



He's played in Andy Dick's band, acted in Six Feet Under, and penned songs for Scooby Doo, but Minneapolis-born, LA-based Willie Wisely struggled to find his rocker niche. His studious songwriting and theater-trained vocal chops slotted him in the Too Slick for Indie Rock box, and his obvious fondness for obscure sounds beloved by record collectors tagged him too offbeat for the mainstream.

LA-crooner channels his inner McCartney and finds himself with a host of timeless tunes.

By asking himself throughout the recording process of his latest album if the Beatles could have played his new songs on the Apple Records rooftop at the end of Let It Be, Wisely finally found his proper sound. He stripped away the gloss that coated his previous discs to reveal a classicism that suits the timelessness of his tunes. Low-key and confidential where he once was hammy, Wisely piles on the harmonies, layering his arrangements like a hairdresser would sculpt a shag hairdo. There's nothing here that's too deep, and that's okay: Sunny tracks like “California” float on a breezy lyricism that befits a loving craftsman, not a tortured artist. At a time when even Avril Lavigne hits reference bygone power-pop, Wisely's nostalgia for a soft-rockin'bell-bottomed groove no longer seems like a liability.