Fly by Kelly Thomas & the Fabulous Pickups is an anthem to dysfunctional relationships. In the album's first track, "Hard Winter," Kelly introduces us to the hard-hearted object of her affections. In "Fly" Kelly urges her would be lover to take a chance on her, "you can see love as a freedom, or you might see a cage...I wanna fly high above my fears." She sweetens the offer in the sultry "Enough:" "you can look, you can touch, you can love baby, but not too much." The relationship moves from the come and go casualness of "Hello Goodbye," to the painful self-awareness of "Worse for the Wear,"and inevitably ends up with "Wish You Bad." As with all dysfunctional relationships, the initial breakup doesn't take, so Kelly dives once more into the troubled waters of her love. With several more songs that explore the explosive nature of her affair. The album reaches resolution with the beautifully tender, "High Time," where she is finally able to say goodbye for good ("you love to swim in the swill, but I love you still though I can't stand to see you this way. So I'm cutting the line, because you can't say goodbye to the booze and the pills and the pain.") Only after all ties are severed is Kelly's character able to fly away to her own freedom. In the triumphant "Fearless," Kelly embraces her new found freedom with gusto.Like someone who's been through Hell and has nothing left to fear she sets off to start a new chapter in her life. The album ends in the soothing emotional coda, "As I Abide." It's a gentle, acoustic intrumental; and perhpaps a fitting end to the story as sometimes the only way to get over a bad relationship is to stop talking (and thinking) about it.
Along this musical journey Kelly uses her vocal and emotional range to really bring the story to life. "Fly" is reminiscent of Roseanne Cash's "The Seven Year Ache." She conjures the sultriness of Elannah Myles for the tempting, "Enough." She also brings the intimacy of Margo Timmins (of Cowoby Junkies) to several songs including "Hello Goodbye." The Fabulous Pickups add to the depth of this album by changing tempos in perfect time with the narrative of the story. With mournful slide guitars and defiant electric guitar work, the Fabulous Pickups help capture all the highs and lows of this emotional roller coaster ride. But for those of us lucky enough to eavesdrop on this musical confessional, there are only highs.