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The Soul Express Album of the Month

July 2003


US Verve, 2003

1. Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly
2. Salt
3. Afro Blue
4. Soon As I Get Home
5. Walk With Me, Lord
6. Eternity
7. Goodbye
8. Vocalise / End Of The Line
9. Fire
10. Blue Rose
11. Lead The Way
12. Silence

Lizz Wright is a 23-year-old Georgia-born songstress, who has created quite a buzz with her Verve debut album, and quite deservedly so. Considering her age, Lizz boasts an amazingly mature vocal tone and phrasing, so it's no wonder veteran producer & Verve chairman Tommy LiPuma has lent a helping hand on the young contralto's debut, along with Brian Blade, one of the top jazz drummers of his generation, and Jon Cowherd.
Despite the definite jazz setting, the album is not straight-ahead traditional jazz, rather it navigates in and around jazz and soul, with a touch of pop or folk thrown in here and there. So as not to scare you off with the last two references, I should emphasise that the first two genres mentioned are the key words, and the album is very much recommendable to fans of sophisticated soul / jazz.
The acoustic arrangements create the classy backdrop, and the overall atmosphere of this ballad album is very peaceful and serene. Lizz is really allowed to take the centre stage with her noble voice, the pleading quality of which brings to mind Oleta Adams and Anita Baker. Yes, she really sounds that good!
My favourite cuts are to be found at the very beginning of the CD. The album opens beautifully with a smoothly gliding version of the Chick Corea / Neville Potter tune Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly, best-known from Flora Purim's reading. More goodies follow: the title track is, from a strict soul viewpoint, the most gripping performance of the album, with an anguished interpretation by Lizz, and at the jazzier end of the spectrum, Afro Blue is an excellent, profound ballad interpretation of Mongo Santamaria's Latin jazz standard. Jazzman Danilo Perez' excellent piano solo deserves special mention.
The rest of the album is of an extremely even quality, and favourite tunes will probably vary a great deal among different listeners. Personally, I might point out Blue Rose as a particularly beautiful composition.
If you are a fan of sophisticated female soul-jazz, I guarantee you are going to like this CD. (8) -PR

Other Albums of the Month in 2003
Albums of the Month in 2002
Albums of the Month in 2001
Albums of the Month in 2000
Albums of the Month in 1999
Albums of the Month in 1998
Albums of the Month in 1997

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