Watching Lizz Wright on last night’s Later …with Jools Holland it was striking, immediately, what a superb vocalist she is, with such a natural depth of tone and effortless clarity in her singing. I think this was enhanced by a physical repose too, and all I could think about – apart from this instant quality – was the ‘pretenders’ status of so many other vocalists.
I know this has been a bugbear of mine: a disdain for the affected slur of so much contemporary female vocalese, and my being particular about anybody’s singing. On Jools, it was brave of John Newman [I guess] to sing alongside Charlie Wilson, the latter’s voice seeming to me from another musical sphere altogether by comparison – I know that isn’t fair – and whilst I still feel indifferent to Newman as a singer, his second performance with band was definitely funky.
I’m digressing from writing about Wright as there is some relevance: Everything Everything performed and hardly have a focus on good vocals, but the energy and rawness was totally apt and affecting; the punkfolk of Lynched was also dynamically raw but was at times framed within perfect four-part harmony; Labi Siffre was, as ever, sublime [now that is gorgeous singing] and the Sleaford Mods belted it out with a mesmerising ‘strop’: well one singing; one drinking.
Lizz Wright sang The New Game from her latest album Freedon & Surrender which I am yet to hear, and its bluesy funk was punctuated by a sweet chorus in which her voice changed its sassy tack to soulful cruise. Wonderful. So today I have been listening to her 2008 album The Orchard and it is also brilliant, with self-penned tracks like When I Fall being a stunning example of writing and singing, and a cover of the Page/Plant Thank You being a bravely beautiful version.