Singer/songwriter Lizz Wright has created music for every mood. A song for every season in our lives. Her debut Verve album "Salt" touches every emotion in the soul and is just a finely crafted body of music. There is no overdubbing and overproduction here. There are no background vocalists. The musicians compliment her movements not overshadowing them with their own agendas. What you hear is quality, clarity, and a well-trained instrument of vocal precision and greatness. Under the watchful production eye of Tommy LiPuma, Brian Blade, and Jon Cowherd, this album has been created with the feel of a recording made years ago with attention to every detail yet, it is new, and brought to the present by this resonant voice.
Lizz elevates on a soulful groove with the Flora Purim classic "Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly." She sings a melodic chant that is quite catchy and will have you singing along. The self-penned title track "Salt" pays homage to Donny Hathaway. Her bluesy, soulful phrasing conveys a message of believing in your dreams and never losing your salt. She is accompanied by a mean horn section of Derrick Gardner on trumpet, Vincent Gardner on trombone, Myron Walden on alto saxophone while Kenny Banks does double duty on the piano and Hammond B3 organ. Her vocals are intoxicating on her reading of "Afro Blue" as Danilo Pérez takes off in flight on a piano solo filling the song with latin rhythms. "Soon As I Get Home" from "The Wiz" seems so fitting as she sets off on her adventure in a brave new world of music. Her gospel roots are evident throughout this rich album but they especially shine as she brings new flavor to the traditional hymn, "Walk With Me, Lord." On the next songs, she takes a slight but wonderful turn in the road. She goes deeper in your soul with reflective and thought provoking lyrics. In addition to "Salt", she wrote the passionate "Eternity", the smoldering "Fire", and the beautiful "Silence" and co-wrote the introspective "Blue Rose" with Kenny Banks. Each of these songs display powerful emotions, spirit, and love and she delivers each of them magnificently. She brings us "Goodbye" and vocalizes poignantly about a love that has ended on the Rachmaninov/Edmonson/Medley piece "Vocalise/End of the Line." Brian Blade contributes "Lead the Way" which also reflects on her musical journey and lets you know that love will guide her every step of the way.
The musicians brought the best of their craft to this album. In addition to their production and arrangement tasks, Jon Cowherd is featured on piano and fender rhodes and Brian Blade on drums and acoustic guitar. John Hart is featured on guitar, Doug Weiss on acoustic bass, Monte Croft on marimba and vibraphone, Jeff Haynes on percussion, Chris Potter on soprano saxophone, and Terreon Gully on drums. "Eternity", "Vocalise/End of the Line", and "Blue Rose" are washed with a flood of cellos and violas.
Lizz's music will stand the test of time for she sings from her heart and soul and is very present in her lyrics. It is very clear there's nothing wrong about Lizz Wright. She will continue to grow and soar. Just like the salt in the stew, she brings us a whole lot of flavor. Enjoy Lizz and her music.