In his four decade recording career, Chuck Wright has been in and out of many bands. Of them, he’s perhaps best known for his time spent as the bassist of Quiet Riot. Originally joining the band in 1982, Wright would be in and out of the band sporadically until last year of 2021. For the first time in his long career, Wright has released a solo album. The album, Chuck Wright’s Sheltering Sky, is a unique and intriguing piece of work that is a far cry from his work in the hard rock/heavy metal world. For this album, Wright has dabbled in the waters of progressive rock/metal. It’s a surprisingly enjoyable effort and well worth a listen.
As a whole, Sheltering Sky can be categorized as progressive rock/metal. Even then, there’s a lot of diversity within the album’s ten tracks. The album’s opening track, “The Weight of Silence,” perfectly sets up everything: it’s a calming and serene instrumental with a splendid mix of flamenco guitar and soaring David Gilmour-esque guitar work. This opening track really defines the rest of album, giving the listener a taste for what they’re in for. For those familiar with the party-hardy anthems Wright played with Quiet Riot, you’re not going to find them here. If this album had any connection to Quiet Riot, the dark and sombering vibe from the melodic songs on QR III can be felt just a tad bit. Aside from that, this album is far from anything with Quiet Riot’s name on it. For this album, rockers come in the form of several industrial tinged tunes including the militant “Army of Me” and the funk-rock driven “Throwin’ Stones.” The former might sound familiar to some listeners and there’s a reason why: it’s a cover of a Bjork song. In this rendition, singer Whitney Tai stays somewhat true to the original- while also adding her sultry vocals to the heavy riffs. While the rockers Wright played on in the 1980s might’ve been in raunchy teen comedies, the rockers on this album would be better suited for David Fincher thrillers.
Speaking of Whitney Tai, she lends her vocals for another two songs on this album- “Giving Up the Ghost” and “Time Waits for No One.” The former is an easy-listening contemporary pop/rock tune while the latter is a progressive metal song that has the stylings of a Queensryche tune. Listening back to it, it’s easy to imagine a Geoff Tate or Todd LaTorre singing this song. The Queensryche sounds can also be found on “The Other Side,” which features some solid steel guitar work- an instrument not heard often in progressive rock music. While an overall progressive rock/metal effort, the album takes a few different turns. “It Never Fails” and the aforementioned “Thrownin’ Stones” are both funk-ridden jams while a Celtic-fused rendition of the Youngbloods’ “Darkness Darkness” and the bluegrass inspired “Cradle of the Sun” sound like they could’ve been used in the sci-fi cult classic TV series Firefly. Even with all of these turns, the album comes back around to progressive rock- with the album closing out strongly on the Eric Johnson-like “Farewell Horizon” and a reprise of “The Weight of Silence.”
Sheltering Sky is also a star-studded affair, with the guest musicians coming from various different bands. In terms of prog rock royalty, Derek Sherinian from Dream Theatre is on many of the songs here. Also featured on this album is Jude Gold (Jefferson Starship), Scotti Hill (Skid Row), Jeff Scot Soto (TSO) and even the late Pat Torpey (Mr. Big)- who passed away in early 2018. It’s an impressive roster of musicians that Wright has assembled here, all playing on this unique piece of work.
Overall, Sheltering Sky is an impressive debut solo effort from Chuck Wright. If the album had any downsides, it would probably be the memorability: will we be remembering this several years from now? It’s really hard to say. Given how different this is from other rock music out now, this could easily fall under the radar. Even then, this might have a good shelf life. Whether you’re into progressive rock or not, Sheltering Sky is well worth a listen for any avid rock music fan.
I'm a writer/journalist with a passion for music and pop culture. Having graduated from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 2014, I've been looking for a platform in which I can share my passions. Since 2009, I've been posting to my own blog- The Walrus' Music Blog- via Blogger. I'm also the author of two self-published books, "The Camp: Stories from the Summer" and "The College: Stories from King's." Together, the two books cover the story of my life from 2004 to 2014. I've been lucky enough to interview several of my favorite musicians over the years and go to concerts from time to time. I'm also very devoted to the CBS reality TV show Survivor, which I started watching in 2002 when its fourth season started. I currently live in New Jersey.