Album Review

Chely Wright - The Metropolitan Hotel

Chely Wright - The Metropolitan Hotel

Think of The Metropolitan Hotel as a suite of pleasant but nondescript rooms -- except for one that offers a revealing, even startling, view. Ten of these eleven songs are standard fare, though toughened somewhat with an assertive edge. On "I Got Him Ready For You", Wright even turns the loss of a lover into a boast about how she had transformed the cad into a catch. Nashville hired guns play along impeccably, at times adding what feels like a deliberately derivative quality. On "The River", a melodrama about practically everybody in town drowning in the local stream, Gordon Mote's restless chords clearly echo Roy Bittan's piano on the Springsteen song of the same name. But none of this matters as much as "The Bumper Of My S.U.V." Its inspiration was someone who gave Wright the finger during an otherwise uneventful drive, a gesture she interpreted as a commentary on her U.S. Marines bumper sticker. Wright uses the incident to unleash a defensive, somewhat self-righteous litany of references to relatives who have seen combat, speculations that the other driver couldn't possibly be as informed as Wright ("I've been to Hiroshima," she explains) and probably drives her kids to a private (i.e., snobby) school, and so on. It is, in other words, as catty an exercise in stereotyping as Wright ascribes to her vehicular critic. For this reason, it's also the song that will most inform historians who seek insight into our era's fears of lost entitlement -- and especially those who articulate them with Wright's eloquence and candor.