Shirley

Matt White's blandly reassuring soul pop has been featured throughout Hollywood movies and network TV, most recently on The Bachelorette. No surprise: His pose is wholesome (with a dash of danger), his storylines familiar and his problems solvable in four minutes or less. Standouts on his third album – "Around the World in 80 Days," especially – have more life than his strained falsetto might sometimes lead you to believe, but that's not saying much: Mayer Hawthorne still looks heavy metal by comparison. White's struggle is trying to sound sincere in a genre that rewards cliché. "I don't want those silly love songs," he sings. "I don't know what they will prove." Then he writes one.

From The Archives Issue 1196: November 21, 2013