Chely Wright is blessed with a wealth of talent as a songwriter and vocalist, but her commercial output seems to get mired in the image-making process.
Chely Wright is blessed with a wealth of talent as a songwriter and vocalist, but her commercial output seems to get mired in the image-making process. Her new MCA album is an example of this, as Wright's sights are set clearly on country-pop divadom rather than her obvious gifts. The title cut is a well-produced, well-performed MOR exercise in cliché. A promising fiddle and banjo intro and wailing vocal soon turn into bombast on "Jezebel," "Wouldn't It Be Cool" is vapor, and "Horoscope" is "Single White Female," part two. On the plus side, the pairing with Brad Paisley on "One Night in Las Vegas" works, and an understated vocal sells the well-written midtempo "While I Was Waiting." Wright delivers a touching vocal on Leslie Satcher's "Her," and a soaring chorus pulls "What If We Fly" out of Carpenters territory. Ballads like "For the Long Run" and "Not as in Love" are radio thorazine, but then Wright surprises with her own beautiful and powerful "Deep Down Low." When Wright concentrates on substance rather than style, the sky's the limit.—RW