Five years after the release of her critically acclaimed, gospel-laden disc, Fellowship (Verve), Lizz Wright makes her Concord Records debut with the powerful Freedom & Surrender, set for release on September 4, 2015. The 35-year-old singer-songwriter – renowned for her earthy alto voice and emotive yet straight-forward vocal serenading – teams with four-time GRAMMY-winning bassist and producer Larry Klein, who’s best known for his work with such leading lights as Joni Mitchell, Madeleine Peyroux and Tracy Chapman.
Wright enlisted Klein based upon the recommendation of trusted colleagues. Already a fan, she was well aware of his production brilliance, particularly through his work with strong-minded women artists. “We talked over the phone; then we met and did as much talking as we did laughing,” she recalls. “I don’t laugh to just mess around and make people feel good; I laugh because I actually get you. Just the fact that I felt that way with him – I just said, ‘OK, we’re cool.’”
For the sessions, Klein and Wright gather a cadre of great musicians that includes drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, bassistDan Lutz, percussionist Pete Korpela, guitarists Dean Parks and Jesse Harris; and keyboardists Kenny Banks, Pete Kuzma, and Billy Childs. In addition, Klein also recruited his longtime songwriting partner David Batteau to collaborate with Wright in the songwriting process. “I loved writing with them,” Wright enthuses.
Freedom & Surrender was initially supposed to be a disc of mostly cover-songs, centered on themes of “the circuitous dance of love.” Instead, it became the very opposite – an album of mostly originals – while keeping the initial theme intact. Wright explains, “There’s a time for everything. There’s a time to do cover-song records, which can be like sharing good homework after doing really beautiful research. It can be amazing and very creative in that way. But I just knew it wasn’t time for me to be doing that. I had to prove it and buckle down and make it happen.”
Without a doubt, Wright certainly made it happen with Freedom & Surrender, her sexiest, most sensual album yet. She wrote ten of the disc’s 15 songs, six with Klein and Batteau. The three penned “The New Game” – the disc’s original working title – a rollicking, country-blues ditty with poetic lyrics and verses. The album as a whole touches upon fresher emotional terrain, especially the ethereal, acoustic guitar and Hammond organ-powered “Somewhere Down the Mystic,” the beautiful lament “Here and Now,” (which was inspired in part by the passing of Maya Angelou), the salty and spiteful “You” and the tender R&B ballad “Blessed the Brave.”