The release of the long-anticipated debut from this talented, 20-something, Georgia-bred chanteuse shows that Norah Jones
isn't the only "it girl" out there. Wright's cool contralto, which was previously heard on Joe Sample's The Pecan Tree
, is a southern stew cooked with ample helpings of soul, jazz, R&B, and gospel. This CD, equally produced by Tommy LiPuma, John Cowherd, and drummer Brian Blade, features mostly mid-tempo renditions of a jazz-fusion ditty, a spiritual, a Broadway tune, a Latin number, light classical, and original compositions. Wright's vocal weight and fluent delivery echoes the talents of Lalah Hathaway
, whether shes putting her own sepia spin on Flora Purim
's '70s gem "Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly," Mongo Santamaria
's "Afro Blue" (with pianist Danilo Perez
), or "Soon As I Get Home" from The Wiz
. Though this record is a promising debut from Wright, one gets the sense that shes a soul singer at heart, as evidenced by the down-home title tune. One thing's for sure: the road to Lizz Wright's future is wide open with no barriers in sight. --Eugene Holley, Jr.