Forward thinking that still holds onto classic PW goodness
Usually we find stories within a song, but leave it to Paul Wright to come up with a fresh idea like making a whole album, "Diego’s Diary", into an ongoing narrative. It doesn’t end there though; the songs are a musical accompaniment to a book that he’s writing as well. How ingenious is that?
The adventure begins in San Diego, “5th and Broadway” to be exact, where two people meet and begin a roller coaster romance. She’s impulsive and lead by wanderlust while he’s trying to build on a renewed outlook on life. There’s a casual feel to it, like there’s no hurry, just openness for what awaits on life’s journey.
Trailing behind this optimistic entrance is “Pacific Beach”, the melody gives off a mellow, uncluttered feeling that suggests a carefree attitude, and works very much in harmony with the lyrics. At the same time, however, the words offset those feelings because although the flow is there and it sounds real chill, the road already starts to get dark.
The perceptive way that Wright infuses this track with progressive despondency, while at the same time still making you want to groove, is such a cleverly subtle way to epitomize the realities of a life that begins to spiral out of control without notice.
“Ocean Beach” is an acoustic rendition of solitary reflection, sadness and aspiration while hesitant and passionate hope vaguely describe the sentiments of “La Jolla”.
As we find ourselves being lead toward a foreboding juncture in “Chula Vista”, the climax of this rocky relationship culminates into a sobering outpour of remorse and sorrow that is beyond heartbreaking.
While he agonizes over the desire to help her up, she can’t help but wear him down: “She tries to reach out but he doesn't hear her call/ cuz no one sees her trouble cuz she doesn't show the struggle.” This scene is masterfully illustrated by Anna Gilbert’s breathtaking voice; a silent, desperate cry from the shadows. Her delivery embodies the very painful realization of rock bottom when someone finally comprehends the severity of their choices and where they’ve ended up because of them.
A ballad that clings to the hope of inexhaustible love is morosely sung to a crowd of indifferent bar goers in “Encinitas”. Inspiration, contemplation and anticipation overwhelms with the easygoing energy you get from “Sunset Cliffs”. The sway of “Saratoga Springs” pursues an arduous allurement and flirts with disdain. Moving on in “Torrey Pines High” as we enjoy some rock and roll on the road to reflection and regret.
Walking down the beach in “Carlsbad”, with some classic Paul Wright beats, reveals confusion and anguish within a man that is struggling to let go of the love that broke his heart. Self examination leads to a formidable epiphany: “She's just a lonely girl living in a lonely world and I don't wanna be a man who is just stuck in a religion.”
His grieving almost qualifies as a dirge in “O.B. Pier”. The soft lament compounded with the distant gull’s cry and the steady crash of the waves enforces the loneliness and regret that is beautifully expressed in this requiem.
As we say goodbye (or do we?) in “Little Italy” we find the incorporation of many musical components together that surprisingly work in sync with each other. Although we’re not used to hearing the sounds of a piano from Paul Wright, he finds a way to add his prolific style so that it all meshes quite well together.
Even though this may be considered more like a synopsis and less like a musical review, because of the direction that the music takes by following the lead of a story, it seems somewhat relevant to make mention of the elements that pertain to it; that and the fact that writing strictly on the technical aspect of music is quite foreign to me.
All in all, an outstanding tour of life in San Diego lead by the one person that imbues us, yet again, with the talent and ingenuity that we’ve come to expect from him. This album is a bold step in a new direction, but one that I fiercely admire and believe will do tremendously well.
In past albums, especially his most recent “Kingdom Come”, Paul Wright has been very forthright about his thoughts on his faith in God. So it comes as an unexpected surprise to hear something so focused on the ups and downs of love and life in place of adoration for the divine higher power. At least, that’s what I thought at first...
This album brings me closer to the Lord in ways that I never would have anticipated. We all hear about grace and think we know what it means. We hear about love and have an idea about what that means. But to be able to see the pain of another, someone that you may have no likeness in experience with whatsoever, and then be able to break down and cry out with them as if you were experiencing their affliction as your own… THAT is the doorway to grace. THAT is how you can know how to love in ways that you never even considered. THAT is what Paul Wright does with this album.
Some may see this as him “selling out” on his allegiance to his beliefs, but I challenge those people to consider the indirect, yet profound impact that this music will have on people that are still living a life fully saturated in the trappings of this world. They may hear this and love it, putting their confidence in him. Then they may go searching for other music that he's released.
Now isn't that a great way to cross over and reach an audience outside the church?
Diego's Diary is Bright and Shining =)
Like all of Paul's music... It comes from the heart and this album is no different. He has his own unique and personal style to all of his music and you know its set apart from others. This album has a great mix of styles of songs, all personally created by Mr. Wright himself. The songs like "La Jolla" or "Sunset Cliffs" are bright and shining, making you feel so great like you'd be in San Diego yourself off the beautiful water.
It's amazing to see how Paul's talent keeps going further and further with each album coming. You can never know what to expect next... But for now, this whole album is a great hit and should be in any collection!