Lizz Wright Dreaming Wide Awake
Link: Lizz Wright.net
The Inside Pulse
Lizz Wright, the young starlet who garnered her fair share of attention for her live performance of Billie Holiday classics, was eager to distance herself from her operatic roots. She wrote the majority of the material on her previous disk, Salt, while at the keyboard of her piano. For the new album, Wright found herself with a guitar in her hand far more than expected, and as a result, this album shows a more mature, complex musician. Think of it as a jazz record written by Tracey Chapman and Solomon Burke with Jeff Buckley helming the controls.
Dreaming Wide Awake opens with a traditional folk guitar (“Taste of Honey”) and then gently parades through many genres without the limitation of a major label release. Any woman who can convincing sing Holiday covers has the pipes, the only downside to this much talent is letting the music overtake the vocals. That doesn’t happen here, thank God. Wright’s voice is equal parts smoky strength and tender vulnerability, allowing the audience to get lost in the moment. One can tell by listening to Wright that Jeff Buckley’s Grace has never been far from her side, as her pop sensibilities lean more toward his vocal style, than that of other singers with a background in the art of opera.
That idea is what Wright insists she was looking for when she began crafting her second album. “I was in a Green and White cab in Atlanta going down Peach Street Hill when I heard Sarah McLachlan’s ‘Angel.’ It was an incredible moment. I realized that was the kind of thing that I really wanted to do.” With standout covers on this album, such as Neil Young’s “Old Man” and the Youngbloods’ “Get Together,” there is something for everyone, even a casual listener.
Wright, ever the introspective artist realizes that the title of the album doubles for something more; a symbol of her growth as an person: “Sometimes we do things and realize the wisdom of what happened later, after doing it,” says Wright; “That’s what happened with this record. Naturally I’d wanted to take a step further or a notch up. But I’m learning that deep inside myself, beyond the echoes of other peoples’ expectations and thoughts about who I am and what I do, I really like simplicity and I am a very mellow person. This project helped me to be okay with expressing that.”
REASONS TO LOVE HER:
*Loves Jeff Buckley and Damien Rice
*Made her name at Billie Holiday tributes in 2003
*Keeps hair short like Me’Shell Ndege’Ocello
Sounds like Billie Holiday, Tracy Chapman, and Jeff Buckley mated to make a pretty little child.
Reason to buy:
Artists like this come along very rarely, a young artist so dedicated to being the best she could be that she taught herself how to play the guitar. Lizz Wright has the potential to be a huge crossover star, much like Norah Jones, if Verve continues to push her career in the right direction.