Songs of the south and a sort of homecoming is the topic of Lizz Wright‘s latest album “Grace” and she once again comes up with a collection of 10 little anthems to add to her repertoire. A repertoire which consists of her own folk-induced jazz and soul and gospel songs and a voice that seems to cope everything. The beauty of a love song like “Seems I’m Never Tired Lovin’ You” by Cortez Franklin doesn’t need any shouting and hollering – her way of putting enough drama and energy into the words is just second to none. It’s as if we will never tire of hearing her sing her heart out. The track gets some extra spin with the use of a full gospel choir which sends chills all the way.
The gospel continues with the Thomas Dorsey tune “Singing In My Soul” which gets a pretty bluesy treatment by using some wailing electric guitar (both Chris Bruce and Marvin Sewell play acoustic and electric guitar on the album). One of my personal faves is the Allen Toussaint classic “Southern Nights”, a sort of South meets West since it reminds me of some of the 70s West Coast songs from the Eagles or Poco. Wonderful stuff.
The choir is back on the Ray Charles tune “What Would I Do Without You” and the blissful title track and Marc Ribot graces (pardon the pun) the sweet and lovely interpretation of “Stars Fell On Alabama” which, strangely enough, makes me want to hear a full album of country songs from the 60s and 70s by Lizz. It’s all about diversity here, but still sticking to that certain formula (the South) and adding pieces by Bob Dylan and k.d. lang. Dylan’s “Every Grain Of Sand” (from his 1981 “Shot Of Love” LP) suits her perfectly well. And just when you think it all begins to sound a bit too samey, Lizz comes up with lang’s “Wash Me Clean” including some crazy organ sounds from Patrick Warren. The album concludes with her own “All The Way Here”, which Lizz wrote together with Maia Sharp with whom she collaborated on earlier albums as well and which shows that she doesn’t necessarily has to depend on other people’s songs, but is a true master of her own stuff too.