When asked to review the new CD by Shelly Fraley (www.shellyfraley.com) titled HUSH, I was intrigued as these ten tracks all come from her Secrets Project. Shelly put out notice to her fans a while back that she wanted to write songs based upon their inner-most fears and passions. Her fans then opened up their hearts and minds, writing, whispering and otherwise sending her their deepest held memories, longings and desires. And Shelly did something amazing. She took these shadows-on-life, these other-sides of our isolated, individual moons, and she cast a gentle, soothing light upon them, bringing them into the open lovingly for everyone to hear and share.
Musically, this is a young woman’s album. But far from bubble-gum pop, it carries the sophisticated musical structure and tonal qualities befitting a montage of inner emotions and struggles so deep that to hear it once is to hear the inner strengths of others, and to hear it twice is to hear your own salvation. At times, as on the title track HUSH, the sound is more deliberate and staccato, while on others like DARLIN there’s a gentle, clap-your-hands, 1950’s beach-a-go-go feel. One could easily waltz to I WON’T FORGET YOU, while OH MY SOUL opens with an invigorating piano ostinato that Elton John could have used on BETTER OFF DEAD (Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy, 1975, MCA).
Lyrically, Hush covers the emotional spectrum. The heart rendering WE GO ON recalls the one you want but can never have, when Shelly sings “I know he’s right, deep inside, but some days I still think of you and cry.” Then there’s the breath smothering CRUSH where “I can barely move when I’m thinking about you,” and the haunting ALL THAT I WANTED where “shadows out on the pavement follow me around like your memories.” Yet, it’s not all hankies and tears inside. The uplifting and upbeat BEWITCHED will have you shaking your hips with it reminiscent air of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins (1926-2000) singing I PUT A SPELL ON YOU (1956, Okeh). This tangy interlude is so spicy, it could have been Julie Newmar’s signature tune for her Catwoman character in the Batman television series (1966, 20th Century Fox Television).
Overall, Shelly Fraley’s HUSH is an inspired expression of the deep that lies within us all, and it both exposes and honors that which we hold closest. So the next time the shadows-on-life burden your day, don’t you cry. Put on Shelly’s CD, instead. Then open your heart, open you ears, listen, and hush.