When I conceived the idea for this Sound Bytes Series, I started thinking about all the songs Lizz Wright sings and which ones I would choose to pair up with the video clips of the Puget Sound.
Lizz has eclectic taste in music and sings all genres equally well.
She chooses a wide variety of songs to sing and she sings them in different styles too.
She does Gospel, rhythm and blues, pop, soul, and folk. She covers artists who sing entirely different styles – including Jimi Hendrix, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Tina Turner, Patsy Cline, just to mention a few.
I think that’s another reason why I like her music so much. Because I like variety in everything too.
So when I think of all her songs, I see each song fitting into one or more categories that I made up in my own mind. The categories describe the nature of the song as well as how she sings it.
Note: There is some overlap. Some of the songs can fit into more than one category.
The categories I created are highlighted in yellow. I described them below and included a few good example songs for each category.
She’s also a great songwriter too. The songs she wrote, herself, have an orange star beside them.
If you could “read my mind” (and you can!), you’ll see what I mean.
Just read the following and click on the song titles highlighted below in gold, and you’ll get a real good idea of Lizz’s particular genius and why I thought of pairing the beauty of her music with the beauty of the Puget Sound.
“Soft, Soothing Serenades”
So for example, I took “Reaching for the Moon”, from the first category, “Soft, Soothing Serenades”, and used it in “Sound Bytes #1, primarily because it was the first song I ever heard Lizz sing, but also because I wanted to showcase the way she can sing so softly and tenderly.
Winsome, Wistful Whisperings
Then in Sound Bytes #2, I chose ” I’m Confessin’ “, from the second category, “Winsome, Wistful Whisperings”, to showcase what I call the “Song-whisperer” in her. Previously, I wrote a post about that called, “The Song-Whisperer”.
Vibrant, Robust Classics
For example, “Right Where You Are”, a song that Lizz wrote with J.D. Souther and Larry Klein, and she sings with Gregory Porter, is a “Soft Soothing Serenade”, but it is also a “Vibrant, Robust Classics”, so I put it in the first and third categories.
Delightful, Diverting Discoveries
The fourth category, “Delightful, Diverting Discoveries”, is a category for the songs she does that I think are either fun, cool, or particularly engaging in some way.
“Speak Your Heart” also fits in “The Song-Whisperer“ (“Winsome, Wistful Whisperings“) category.
“Let Them Talk“ also fits in the “Vibrant, Robust Classics” category.
Good Ole’ Gospel
Then, lastly, there is the Good Ole’ Gospel style that she sings so well.
Congratulations if you made it this far and have listened to all the songs I presented in this post! I know it’s a lot to ask of any reader. But I also think it was worth your time. I happen to think that Lizz is amazing and nobody can top her in my book. But I know it’s a subjective thing.
But there is one last thing I’d like to say.
We tend to focus on the singer and take for granted the musicians backing up the singer. But as I listen to all of Lizz’s songs, I also listen to the instrumentalists backing her so well.
They are the unsung heroes in this scenario.
They know when to play and when not to play and I think they deserve much credit for all they do to adorn and perfectly complement Lizz’s beautiful style and voice.
P. S. I published this post a few days ago, but today I was thinking about this last part where I said the band members are the unsung heroes. So I wanted to add a short note concerning that:
Today, as I was listening to one of Lizz’s songs called, “Wake Up Little Sparrow”, I heard something in the song for the first time, even though I’ve listened to the song over a thousand times.
So it made me think of how a good musician knows when to play and when not to play.
But in this case, it was more than just knowing when to play. It was about how this particular musician played a few simple notes but played them in such a way that the simple music became art, and added an extra dimension to the whole song.
Click on the song, now, and listen for the instrumental that is played between the third and fourth verses. Specifically, listen for the two notes played on the piano for a few bars of music.
What do you get from that?
What I got from that, today, was that the pianist was trying to play the two notes to sound like a chirping little sparrow. I didn’t get that the first 1000 times I listened to the song, but now that I see it that way, I think “How cool is that?
So the line between musician and artist is blurred!”
Note: I don’t really know if that was the musician’s intended effect or not, but I’m glad I saw it and heard it that way today. I think that’s cool.
P. P. S. This is also an addendum to the original post above. During the past few days since I wrote the postscript, I thought of another song that is a great example of the contribution the musicians make to the songs she sings.
Lizz sings a song called, “Stop”, on her second CD called, “Dreaming Wide Awake”.
There is a beautiful and intriguing instrumental drama going on in the background. It could stand alone as an instrumental song or a soundtrack. But I just love to listen to it.
You know how a photographer focuses on the foreground and the background gets hazy, and vice versa, if the photographer focuses on the background then the foreground gets hazy?
Well just do the same as you listen to “Stop”. Try to focus on only the instrumental part and not Lizz’s vocal and you’ll see what I mean.
It’s hauntingly beautiful. I so appreciate talented musicians who can put this kind of beautiful sound together.