Lizz Wright, Shadow Review


Lizz Wright, Shadow Review

by Constance Tucker

Liz-Wright-All-About-Vocals-CDOnly some vocalists resonate with the depth and soulfulness that Lizz Wright brings to the table. Her latest studio album, Shadow, celebrates 20 years of an illustrious career, and her vocal mastery is in top form. The nuances of Wright’s vocal skills come from her tone, diction, vocal control, and overall technique, as demonstrated throughout the album.

Wright’s vocal tone is a rich, complex sound, imbued with the influences of her Southern upbringing and the spiritual depth of her gospel roots. It’s a chocolatey and resonant tone, capable of conveying a myriad of emotions from the softest whisper of intimacy to the powerful crescendo of a soulful outcry. This versatility is evident in tracks like “Root of Mercy” and “Sparrow,” where her voice serves as a beacon of light, guiding listeners through the storm of emotions evoked by the lyrics and melodies.

Her diction is another facet of her vocal expertise. Wright enunciates each word with clarity and intention, allowing the lyrics to flow seamlessly with the music. This precision in articulation enhances the storytelling aspect of her songs, making the narratives she unfolds all the more compelling. The careful selection of words and how she molds them with her voice bring a unique life to her originals and the covers she has chosen for this album. Her finely tuned syllabic expressiveness can be experienced on the track “Sweet Feeling.”

Vocal control is perhaps Wright’s most striking attribute. Her ability to modulate her voice, from the controlled power of her belt to the delicate nuances of her lower register, showcases a mastery of her instrument that few can claim. This control is technical and emotional. Wright uses her voice to navigate the complex landscapes of intimacy, loss, community, and healing that Shadow explores, with each note and pause imbued with meaning and feeling. Listen to the control she exudes on the track “Your Love.”

Overall, Wright’s vocal technique on Shadow culminates years of refinement and exploration. Her voice moves with the ease of a seasoned artist, yet each performance feels fresh and inspired. The album’s production, devoid of the pressures of A&R representatives and genre constraints, allows her voice the space to shine in its full glory. It’s a gentle yet triumphant presentation of her capabilities, underscored by her collaborations with artists like Angelique Kidjo and Meshell Ndegeocello, which add depth and texture to the auditory experience.

Moreover, Wright’s approach to Shadow—a deeply personal project influenced by the loss of her grandmother—adds layers of authenticity and vulnerability to her performance. This emotional grounding is what transforms the album from a mere showcase of vocal talent into a profound exploration of human experience. Her voice becomes the vessel through which we navigate the shadows of grief and the light of enduring love.

Shadow is a career-defining work that highlights Wright’s vocal abilities. Her tone, diction, control, and technique are all masterfully employed to deliver an experience that is deeply enjoyable and universally relatable. Wright’s voice and music transcend the ordinary; Shadow is, without doubt, a seminal work in Wright’s career and a gift to all who appreciate the fine art of vocal music.


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