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Freedom & SurrenderFreedom and Surrender
The circuitous dance between the beginning and the end.
Something amazing and terrifying happened to me as I entered into my 30s. I realized that I had run far off the course of my scripted plans, my projections for who I'd be, what I'd be doing, and how it would feel at this point. Then, the realization the mapped trail couldn't be recovered. A hound without a hunt, I was captured by unfamiliar woods far from earshot of the original game and players. Untethered by marriage with a scrap pile of maternal designs that never took root, I found myself forced, thank goodness, to let go.
The pageantry of over-identifying with past experiences and old ideals had ended. In review, I found that life's unfolding had exceeded my most elaborate visions while other hopes had slipped into ruin in the clasp of my determined hands. Meanwhile, a new meekness and curiosity made all of my experiences sacred and overwhelming, something akin to a reverent depression. Desire was quieted in my heart, and I was uneasy in the cool of my newness, wondering what I really wanted to do next.
When the label suggested that I consider working with Larry Klein, my entire focus shifted with a warm shrug, Why not? He's produced some of my favorite records. Within a few conversations I had found plenty of reasons to trust the voice on the other end of the line. I knew that I was respected for my potential and achievements, and he wasn't new to dealing with strong women. Another shrug, Why not? I had plenty to sing about now, a heart cracked open by disappointment, a will broken by the truth. I was ready for a new project, the kind of baby that I knew how to make.
It was suggested to me initially that I make a record of covers. It was the very moment my hard head became bent on writing my way out of my valley, no matter how hard or long I'd have to work for it. I'd count my steps and tell stories until I met the ridge line without borrowing anyone else's view. This was not my hour to cover, but to uncover, and hopefully, the reveal would be worth something. I trembled in the wait for my own revelation.
I scurried around the country (Nashville, New York and LA) to have collaborative conversations with old and new friends. I remembered how to just sit with people and talk, even though I was on a schedule and budget. We all spoke like we were on Grandma's porch, but the work got done. To my delighted surprise, much of this record was written with Larry himself.
My average day of preproduction with him looked like: A sunrise run and swim at Santa Monica pier, showing up to his studio sandy, salty, and red faced, talking through beautiful rambles with him and David Batteau while high on espresso. Then we'd get snagged by a soulful riff from Larry's acoustic bass guitar as he noodled along (seemingly) aimlessly. Often a story would present a hook and we'd return the next day with responses. This felt like an old and dignified pace of work, but also kind of risky. However, I looked up after a few months of these weeklong neighborly sits and real songs were following us, a train getting longer, each car intact and connected as we rolled on.
In the evenings I listened to demos of the budding songs on my phone as the sun set over the Pacific. I could see them, unmade movies. The tide of communion would pull back and the shining pieces left could be made into anything. This is when I knew that I had, in these mosaic sessions, stumbled upon a new page of my life.
I remembered the feeling of being found. One of the most moving songs from it's inception was, Somewhere Down the Mystic. Playing on the simple wonders of my rustic Appalachian life, we imagined a love lost to death and the feeling of it's lasting warmth, a nod to love's reach across life's threshold.
Months later, on February 20th, I had a near death experience, sliding across 300 yards of ice coated mountain curve. I softened my body and rested my hands in my lap. The heavy car floated silently towards a 75 foot ravine that ended with a wide band of frozen creek. Ok was the only thing I could get out in a sigh. I was stopped by a young bellwood tree that grew out of the bank like a hook. I slowed my breathing and meditated in suspension. About 20 minutes later, a young neighbor pulled the door open, reaching in with a strong arm to guide my climb out. Now when I sing the chorus, I see the gracious hole and the sweet sapling that grows over it. It threw me back, a fish returned to the river with a cut lip.
The pink bells of the tree can be seen on my homepage, and I want to keep such simple things close from now on. Why not? They were strong enough to save me. In surrender I experience freedom. The gift of an end is a beginning. I greet the sun with the only reason I've ever needed, why not?
-Lizz Wright1. Freedom
2. The Game
3. The New Game
4. Lean In
5. Right Where You Are
6. River Man
7. Somewhere Down The Mystic
8. Real Life Painting
9. To Love Somebody
10. Here And Now
12. Blessed The Brave
13. Surrender$24.99Vinyl LP - 2 LPs Sealed Buy Now
GraceOn Grace, lauded American singer Lizz Wright summons her Southern heritage and the spirit of the earth to usher us into a nurturing space that pulses and hums with the unspoken suggestion that grace is a cornerstone of our original state of being. Produced by acclaimed singer and songwriter Joe Henry, Grace is a stark reflection of Wright's sense of place and belonging that's deeply woven into the cultural fabric of America. Lizz offers one original, written for this record, plus inspiring interpretations of songs from Ray Charles, Allen Toussaint, k.d. lang, Bob Dylan, Nina Simone, Sister Rosetta Tharp & more.1. Barley
2. Seems I'm Never Tired Lovin' You
3. Singing In My Soul
4. Southern Nights
5. What Would I Do
7. Stars Fell On Alabama
8. Every Grain Of Sand
9. Wash Me Clean
10. All The Way Here$21.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
TajMoTajMo marks a timely convergence of the talents of two unique American artists who've already built iconoclastic individual legacies that have extended and expanded blues traditions into adventurous new territory. The collaboration brings out the best in both artists, with the pair merging their distinctive voices, personalities and guitar styles to create vibrant, immediate music that's firmly rooted in tradition yet ruled by a playful sense of adventure. The album features guest appearances by Sheila E., Joe Walsh, Lizz Wright and Bonnie Raitt, who lends her voice to a distinctive cover of John Mayer's anthemic 'Waiting on the World to Change.'1. Don't Leave Me Here
2. She Knows How To Rock Me
3. All Around The World
4. Om Sweet Om
5. Shake Me In Your Arms
6. That's Who I Am
7. Diving Duck Blues
8. Squeeze Box
9. Ain't Nobody Talkin'
11. Waiting On The World To Change$21.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now
Soul EyesSinger, songwriter and pianist Kandace Springs will release her debut full-length album Soul Eyes on Blue Note Records. Produced by Grammy-winning producer Larry Klein (Lizz Wright, Melody Gardot, Joni Mitchell, Herbie Hancock), the album touches upon soul and pop while channeling her jazz influences as well as her Nashville upbringing. Kandace counts such stylists as Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Roberta Flack and Norah Jones as her heroes, but as evidenced by Soul Eyes, Springs mimics none of them.
Kandace's journey to discovering her uniqueness didn't happen overnight. In fact, her 2014 self-titled debut EP had a decidedly contemporary R&B/hip-hop bent with production by Pop & Oak (Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, Miguel). The EP was incredibly well-received and led to performances on Late Show With David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, as well as appearances at the Afropunk and Bonnaroo festivals.
Kandace was dubbed a "suave songstress" (Wall Street Journal), "a versatile and vital artist" (Afropunk), and "a vocal force to be reckoned with" (Okayplayer). Essence Magazine named her a New & Next artist and Interview Magazine made her their Music Discovery, writing that while "Hearing the word jazz might revert a listener's thoughts to the music of yesteryear...Up-and-comer Kandace Springs aims to change this notion. The singer, songwriter, and pianist blends elements of soul, jazz, and pop, producing a unique and modern twist on the genre that appeals to young and old listeners alike."
As amazing an experience as that was, as Kandace got ready to record her album she couldn't shake the feeling that she wasn't yet singing her true self. Conversations with her longtime producers Carl Sturken and Evan Rogers led to soul searching and rethinking her musical direction. Also during this period, Kandace attracted the attention of Prince, who heard her makeover of Sam Smith's "Stay With Me" on the website Okayplayer. The music icon invited her to perform with him at Paisley Park for the 30th anniversary of Purple Rain. "He encouraged me a lot before I recorded this new record, especially during the time in which I was trying to figure out my sound," Kandace says. "He told me that I needed to do what comes naturally to me. He was absolutely right."
For Soul Eyes, Kandace continued working closely with Rogers and Sturken, but they also recruited Klein to help the singer bring out her distinctive artistic traits. "Larry wanted me to be free in the studio," she recalls. "I've been through a lot of other sessions in which the producer tries to take control of your sound. Larry was just like, 'Go in and play what you feel.' That ultimately led to the best outcome; he captured this record perfectly."
Klein praises Kandace as a "natural." "In this era, in which flash and hunger for fame is often equated with talent, she's that rare person who sings and plays because that is what she needs to do in life," he says. "When I first heard Kandace, I was sold after hearing one song. Her smoky voice coupled with a sense of phrasing way beyond her years, and her angular way of accompanying herself on piano grabbed me right away."
The eleven songs contained on Soul Eyes are a mix of Kandace's originals and co-writes as well as the jazz classic "Soul Eyes" and songs by Jesse Harris, Shelby Lynne, War, and others. The album features Kandace's playing piano alongside an illustrious cast of musicians that includes trumpeter Terence Blanchard, guitarists Dean Parks and Jesse Harris, drummer Vinnie Colaiuta, organist Pete Kuzma, bassist Dan Lutz, percussionist Pete Korpela.1. Talk To Me
2. Soul Eyes feat. Terence Blanchard
3. Place To Hide
4. Thought It Would Be Easier
5. Novocaine Heart
6. Neither Old Nor Young
7. Too Good Too Last feat. Terence Blanchard
8. Fall Guy
9. The World Is A Ghetto$19.99Vinyl LP - Sealed Buy Now