WISELY - Parado

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"Wisely (the new moniker for the artist formerly known as Willie Wisely) hasn't made a record for almost ten years. Back then he was an underappreciated, very talented practitioner of modern power pop; now he is more grown-up and his 2006 effort, Parador, isn't a record that anyone under the age of 40 should even consider buying. It is a record for people who have lived, loved, lost and found, a record with deep, melancholy shadings that would do nothing but scare the pajamas off of anyone in the middle of enjoying their youth. Produced by Linus of Hollywood with a sure hand, the album is as slick as anything you might hear on the radio with rich layers of guitars, lush vocal harmonies, and a thoroughly professional feel. This slickness serves as camouflage for the bloody heart that beats inside the record, especially the stark and emotional ballads that anchor the album. The first two songs ("This Is Everything," "Too Quick to Love") pitch the listener right into the bleak, gray gloom withWisely emoting over some very austere musical backing. Elsewhere you run across tearjerkers like "Through Any Window," an intimate and heartbreaking acoustic tune with Wisely's most affecting vocal performance, the quiet, bossa nova-influenced "Who Blew Out the Sun?," and the acoustic piece "Parador," which is a smooth and sophisticated tune with swooning strings, a lovely melody in the chorus, and which is, perhaps, the most effective song on the record. Stacked up, these ballads might be too much to take in one sitting, thankfully there are a batch of lively rockers to contrast with the somber ballads and give the record some balance. Not that all of these up-tempo tracks are light-hearted: "Drink Up" details a modern life thoroughly messed up, "Joke" is about being the butt of one, and "Altitudes" has an achingly sad melody. Only the lovely "Staying Home Again," a rollicking love song with a nice Pernice Brothers feel, and the swaggering "Let Me Run Wild" give Wisely a chance to break free of the melancholy that pervades the rest of the record. They also help balance the tone of the record and give Parador a chance to sink in and grow on the listener. It is the kind of record that needs a few spins to really start to take hold, but once it does, it carries some real emotional power.Willie Wisely fans will be pleased by Parador, and his exceedingly adult brand of power pop may even win him some new fans."