A Wright To Dream
Dreaming Wide Awake is less soul and R&B than Salt, but Lizz Wright’s sophomore album manages something that its predecessor fails at: to expand on a range of styles to create a mosaic of superb music. Craig Street (k.d. lang, Me’Shell NdegâˆšÂ©Ocello) lends his producing expertise to this montage of jazzy blues and rock-inspired covers, classics, and originals. Among others, Bill Frisell, Mark Anthony Thompson (a.k.a. Chocolate Genius), and Glenn Patscha (Ollabelle) help contribute.Overall, the original songs Wright has written and co-written are catchy and inspired. The stand-out “Trouble” euphorically rises in waves, sounding unlike jazz, pop, folk or alternative, landing somewhere in the multi-faceted gray area. “Dreaming Wide Awake” lulls the listener into a somber yet peaceful doze. “Hit The Ground,” a writing collaboration with Toshi Reagon and Jesse Harris, sounds like a blues standard; deep, rich, sullen and smoky.
Regarding covers, Neil Young’s “Old Man” has delightfully folky instrumentation, but a jazz duet and sparse percussion add a new and enjoyable spin to an old classic. Unfortunately her version of The Youngbloods’ “Get Together,” while creative and well executed, seems to lack something. Perhaps the song is simply too played-out, or perhaps it just doesn’t have enough twangy guitar. Either way, this classic is odd in a jazz style.
Other tracks like “I’m Confessin'” are smooth and silky, like a late-night cafâˆšÂ© ballad. Alongside deeply poignant songs with acoustic accompaniments such as “Wake Up Little Sparrow,” the success of the varying styles and Wright’s range really shine. While her debut was hailed as an almost flawless jazz release, Dreaming shows that Wright is more than just a chanteuse, she’s a rising star.