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Chely Wright

The Metropolitan Hotel – 2005 (Dualtone)

Reviewed by Jeffrey B. Remz

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CDs by Chely Wright

After giving up on the major labels and maybe vice versa and an ill-fated stint with a new indie that produced one measly single, Chely Wright went her own way to very good effect.

The Kansan always has had a strong voice that does justice to the material. That has not changed one iota here, although she can sound tender (the opener "It's the Song" about the difficult life on the road), but is no easy mark.

What may be different this time around is Wright is tackling far weightier matters. That is most apparent on the heartbreaking tearjerker, "The River," about two high school girls who lost their lives in the river. Wright turns in great writing also with "I was baptized in that same water/Gave my soul to Jesus/How can such a peaceful place/Be filled with so much pain."

On "Between a Mother and a Child," Wright describes those struggles from the get go with "I know you don't like me." And she gets political on "The Bumper of My S.U.V.," a surprise semi-hit. Not exactly the types of songs expected from the same person who sang "Single White Female."

While not exactly hard core country - the sound is often a bit too bright - Wright has crafted an album that's a career step forward thanks to blazing her own trail.