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Chely Wright

Lifted Off the Ground – 2010 (Vanguard)

Reviewed by Nelson Gullett

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CDs by Chely Wright

It would be almost impossible to give a review of the newest release from Chely Wright without also mentioning the other reason she's been in the news lately. Wright's recent admission that she is a lesbian has mostly overshadowed her new album, but the record should not be ignored. Many of the songs were born out of the depression that had taken over Wright's life under the weight of the secret she was keeping. Writing them helped to pull her out.

As you might expect, this is a deeply personal album for Wright that took some time to create. Not known previously as a songwriter, Wright plucked each of the songs in this set from different chapters in her own life. On the album's lead off track and lead single, Broken, Wright sings of a relationship that has deteriorated due to her being unable to reveal her entire self. Like Me (also the title of Wright's new autobiography) finds a singer who knows her inner self and wonders if anyone else ever truly will.

The honesty on display here extends to the music as well. Producer Rodney Crowell helped Wright nurture these songs over that past five years, and he seems content to let the spotlight shine on Wright's words and voice with his understated production. One obvious exception is the surprisingly poppy and peppy Notes to the Coroner. The song is written in the form of a suicide letter, and is a light hearted take on a very serious episode from Wright's past.

After a prolonged absence from the music scene, Wright is back. She may not be the same Single White Female you remember, but by finding the strength to be honest with herself and her music, she seems ready to embark on a new chapter of her life and her career.