Lizz Wright
The Orchard
(Verve Forecast)
This Georgia preacher's daughter reaches a spot beyond the initial receptors, and if she's in the background, she's not there for long. Wright brings gospel heat to a seamless mix of her own songs with transporting takes on the likes of Ike Turner ("I Idolize You") and Led Zeppelin ("Thank You"). In today's mess of octave climbers, bossy babes and melismatic divas, a contralto comfortable in her own skin is some kind of novelty. The only recent comparison would be Anita Baker, whose records had more varnish than this folk blues simmered in soul stew. The Orchard is capable of eliciting a physical response, a strange jolt into Wright's presence.

Doug Taylor

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