PARADISE, HAWAIIAN STYLE

Chely Wright gets bitten, poked and frozen in a tropical getaway

Story by Chris Neal - Photo by Mark Pokraka/MCA Records

After two grueling 16-hour work days in a row, Chely Wright's job is finally done - or so she thinks. The sleek songstress has been lying on jagged lava rocks and scaling 100-foot cliffs on the picturesque Hawaiian island of Oahu. Now she's more than ready to start the long minivan trek back to her hotel in Honolulu.

"Oh, no no no," director Trey Fanjoy tells her. "You've gotta go lay in the sand."

And so she does, without complaint. "As long as the crew wants to keep going," declares Chely, "I'll keep going."

Chely is filming her exotic new video for "Never Love You Enough," and while the Hawaiian landscape looks like paradise, this is no vacation. "We've been fighting the elements," notes Chely with a laugh. "Fighting mosquitoes and bugs and mud and water and rain and sun and wind!"

The completed video will be photographically stunning, but such breathtaking beauty has its price. Chely sprawls on a gorgeous beach as waves crash dramatically just feet away from her - frosting her with a bone-chilling spray. She stands on a breathtaking cliff - after a long, hard climb. She frolics in a lush, green tropical forest - where she's bitten by a hoard of insects.

And then there are those knifelike lava rocks!

"They were poking into my back," she reveals. "There's really no comfortable way to sit on them."

Chely is going to all this trouble to bring the grand sentiments of "Never Love You Enough" to life with equally grand visuals. "The song is me saying to someone, 'Hey, I could kiss you in the rain, I could go grab some stars, I could do all these big, grandiose things, and it still would not be enough to show you how much I love you,' " Chely explains. "It's like, 'Nothing I could do would ever explain it to you. I could never put it into words.' "

So when the director originally suggested the expansive vistas of Hawaii would make a fitting backdrop, Chely immediately agreed. "I thought it would be a really neat way to depict that grand feeling," she recalls.

The song that started all these feelings and filming is the title track for Chely's new album, due out in September. "I've never really had much success with love songs," she confides, "but this one had an in-your-face feel, while still being quite intimate."

Chely spent a total of 17 months working on the album - "I just wanted to make sure it was right," she explains. But now, she believes the final result of those long months' toil has been worth it. "It's a definite step in a direction I want to go," she says. "Sonically, it's more interesting than anything I've ever done. It's definitely still me, though."

The key to her satisfaction is in the quality of the songs on Never Love You Enough. "If I've done anything in my five albums, I hope I've chosen good songs," she declares. "And I feel like this album is full of better songs than I've ever had. I was looking for music that moved me and lyrics that I could connect with - because if I can't identify with it, I can't expect anyone else to."

No doubt everyone can identify with the relief Chely's feeling after two hard days of filming. Even so, the months ahead won't hold much rest for Chely - she'll be on the road all summer touring, and she'll continue modeling for the fashion website www.fashionwindow.com.

For now, though, it's back to the hotel for a good night's sleep - with the hope that the soothing sounds of those Hawaiian waves will serenade her like a lullaby.

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