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FLY AWAY (2003)
Fly Away - Click to view!In a market where originality is rare, Paul Wright's unique sound is a refreshing approach to Christian music. A medley of musical styles makes his debut Fly Away almost impossible to limit to one genre, and it's this creativity that produces such an enjoyable CD. Wright's music has elements of John Mayer's acoustic guitar and Jason Mraz's folksy spunk, with a little of his own freestyle rap thrown in to stir things up. Or, as he would say "I represent folk meets hip-hop, make it modern rock, gonna make it sound hot."

Acoustic guitar is the heart of the CD and a variety of different sounds stem from this foundation. The single "Your Love Never Changes" layers vocals and rap echoes with a progressive beat, creating a catchy song that's managed to gain playtime on Christian radio stations. The smooth style of the title track "Fly Away" is reminiscent of jazz, but touches of hip-hop keep it exciting and unexpected. "Crashing Down" has a distinct reggae flavor, courtesy of artists Ohmega Watts and MG! the Visionary. "West Coast Kid" offers a cute summary of Wright's musical career, cleverly contrasted against that of fellow rapper and "east coast kid" Toby Mac. A subtle harmonica lends a country feel to this rap, inducing a sense of the Tennessee town that houses Toby's company, Gotee Records.

Unfortunately, meaningful lyrics are not one of Wright's strong points, and weak wording undermines the strong musical potential of several songs. This is especially true in Wright's slower songs, where a deeper level of meaning is needed but is not often found. "Life After Death" provides an interesting idea and melody, but its lack of lyrical depth causes the track to fall short. Uninspired lyrics combined with a simplistic tune also make the slow song, "Wonderful Creator," a little too cliché. Worst are the shallow lyrics of "Who Is This Woman," which have no apparent connection to the rest of the CD.

Paul Wright is all about having a good time, and this value is reflected in the upbeat, carefree quality of his music. Following in the energetic vein of Relient K, Wright proves once again that Christian music can be fun and entertaining. And like Relient K, Wright's songs do not deal with purely Christian subjects. In fact, many songs have no Christian link at all, focusing instead on Wright's laid-back life or on the beach and party themes that are infused into the CD. One such song is dedicated entirely to his favorite pair of flip-flops—a light-hearted, silly song with a charm all its own.

This isn't to say that Fly Away doesn't have its serious moments. "You're Beautiful" makes a statement about God's role in the purpose of a Christian's life while "Mommy, Where's Daddy?" gives a moving account of divorce from a child's point of view. However, the juxtaposition of these more meaningful songs with the rest of the album creates a confusing CD that lacks unity. Wright's triumph is when he is able to combine weightier topics with his flair for energy. "Brighter" synthesizes Christian ideas with Wright's underlying party theme, creating one of the CD's best songs.

While Fly Away has room for improvement, it's a notable debut that any pop fan with a sense of humor will enjoy. Play Fly Away at the beach or a barbeque, or pop it in your car stereo on a lazy morning cruise. If you're anything like me you may find yourself passing by your destination to finish your favorite song.
- Becca Tuttle
February 2004
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