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Friday, September 16, 2011

Shelly Fraley - Into The Sun

Shelly Fraley - Into The Sun
2011, Hinterland House Publishing Co.

Native Kansan and Nashville transplant Shelly Fraley began writing songs at a young age on an out-of-tune church piano. Inspired by the pop music of her youth, Fraley developed a strong sense of melody and an appreciation for great hooks that lights up her songwriting with verve and panache. Fraley seems to have struck a chord along the line, with her songs featured on such shows as Private Practice, One Tree Hill, Army Wives and Pretty Little Liars. Fraley continues to build momentum on the back of her debut album, Into The Sun, while embarking on an East Coast tour of the U.S. in the Fall of 2011.

Into The Sun opens with "Sway", showing off a lush pop arrangement and sultry voice ala Canadian chanteuse Sarah Slean. "Come On, Let Go" is a catchy, bouncy pop tune about inertia in relationships, and having the courage to let go when the time is right. Fraley's chorus is the sort that sticks with you, replaying itself in your mind long after the song is over. "Two At A Time" is a cute song of reminiscence of the joy and excitement of new love. Reserved in approach, Fraley nonetheless manages to create a catchy and memorable pop number with substance. "Up, Up & Away" seems the most likely hit here; a shiny bit of pop gold with a rootsy base that gets in your skull and stays there.

On "Be Brave", Fraley is psyching herself up to talk to someone she can't get out of her head. She knows he likes her too but just can't seem to make the first move. The song is wonderfully authentic, steeped in the normal neuroses of insecurity that plague us all when trying to interact with others. "Uh Oh I'm Fallin'" is a light and fluffy number about the pure elation of falling in love. Fraley nails the moment, encapsulating it in a musical atmosphere that's perfect for her subject. "Seize The Day" is all about picking up the pieces and moving on. A positive message in difficult light, the song itself is a solid album track, but Fraley's addition of strings to fill out the arrangement is a nice touch. Into The Sun closes with "Hi, Hi, Hi", exploring the circular nature of an on-again, off-again relationship. Fraley pulls off another memorable chorus in the process, writing a tune that will call you back and encourage you to hit play again.

Fraley contributes piano and voice on Into The Sun, but gets some help from alumni of the Josh Gracin Band, Sixpence None The Richer, Outsiders and Tonic along the way. Producer Mark Nash (PFR, Sixpence None The Richer) helps Fraley construct a musical tableau that puts her personal observations in song in their best light. There's a distinctive pop feel that pervades Into The Sun, but also a messy, organic side that makes Fraley's songwriting accessible and authentic to the listener at home. Into The Sun is a great start.

Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)

Learn more about Shelly Fraley at or  Into The Sun is available from as a CD or Download.  The album is also available via iTunes.

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