In the first decade of her post-Go-Go's solo career, Belinda Carlisle delivered six albums as a mainstream pop artist, notching hits with songs like "Mad About You" and "Heaven Is a Place on Earth." Following 1996's A Woman and a Man, Carlisle largely abandoned her solo pursuits, participating in a handful of Go-Go's reunions and battling a drug addiction that lasted until 2005. Newfound sobriety and the influence of living in France yielded 2007's Voila, an unexpectedly high-quality collection of French pop songs and classic chansons which she sang entirely in French. Now, with another decade in the books, the California native returns with yet another personal passion project in 2017's Wilder Shores. Like Voila, Wilder Shores eschews any attempt at mainstream pop, nor does it offer more than a handful of English-language tracks. A longtime devotee to the practice of Kundalini Yoga, Carlisle and her producer/collaborator Gabe Lopez have set to music a collection of Buddhist chants and mantras, the bulk of which are sung in the ancient Gurmukhi language. Though pop-oriented in structure, the mostly acoustic arrangements are adorned with Eastern instrumentation like tabla, harmonium, and sitar, and Carlisle's increasingly smoky voice handles the tricky chants surprisingly well. Although it suffers somewhat from the inherent blandness that often comes with this type of new age fusion, the album's tone is generally uplifting and the acoustic piano rendition of "Heaven Is a Place on Earth" that closes out the collection slots in well with the overall vibe and intention. This yoga-inspired set certainly won't be for everyone, and while it would be all too easy to write off Wilder Shores as a late-career indulgence, give Carlisle credit for once again challenging herself as a singer and artist.
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AllMusic Review by Timothy Monger