Chely Wright The Metropolitan Hotel

Six albums into her career, Chely Wright has survived Nashville’s stereotypical sex kitten makeovers, emerging from the country-pop gristmill with her best album to date. Credit her songwriting as much as her voice — eight of 12 songs are hers. And, as her somewhat autobiographical opening track ("It’s the Song”) explains, it’s the reason she does what she does. Her deep, throaty vocals soar on this potential hit yet she’s clearly in it for more than chart action. She’s been there already and Metropolitan shows a comfortable artist willing to reveal much more than her latest video. From the haunting, heartfelt chronicling of the death of two childhood friends in "The River” to a simple song about the odds’n’ends she keeps in the back of her night table, Wright has never been more personal. "Between a Mother and a Child” paints a horror story of failed relationships with a twist, while "The Bumper of My S.U.V.” turns U.S. jingoism on its ear in favour of not passing judgment prematurely. Guests ranging from Vince Gill, Stuart Duncan and Aubrey Haynie add depth, blended with stellar turns on piano by Gordon Mote and Jeff King on guitar. Chely Wright has found her true voice and The Metropolitan Hotel allows it to bask it in its most accessible light. (Dualtone)