Dreaming Wide Awake
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2005, Volume 12, #10
Written by T.J. Simon
Hailing from rural Georgia, Lizz Wright is one-part Norah Jones and one-part Nina Simone. On her sophomore effort Dreaming Wide Awake, the 25-year old, African-American songstress performs a dozen jazz-infused pop tunes that employ such minimal instrumentation that they effectively accentuate her sultry, soulful voice. Most of the tracks were penned by others, but Wright still manages to put a unique spin on the material. The most interesting moments are her interpretations of a pair of familiar songs from the classic rock canon: Neil Young’s Old Man and The Youngblood’s Get Together. Her richly textured approach to both selections ensures that neither is likely to be forgotten. Elsewhere, the dreamy instrumentation and a hint of vocal reverb combine to transform her cover of Joe Henry’s Stop into another highlight, and she enlists the help of Jones’ guitarist and songwriter Jesse Harris to script two of the outing’s finer cuts: Hit the Ground and Without You. There are a few moments on Dreaming Wide Awake that are ultimately forgettable (Chasing Strange and Wake Up, Little Sparrow), but they aren’t bad enough to mar the album’s cohesive and pleasant cumulative effect. For those seeking a solid, romantic, easy listening endeavor, Dreaming Wide Awake is a clear winner from a talented artist who surely will be around for many years to come. ½
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2005 The Music Box