Lizz Wright: The Orchard (Verve)

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Lizz Wright: Another Angel
Lizz Wright: The Orchard (Verve)

We aren't short of soulful women singers right now, but few deliver with such blues gravitas and sensual authority as this Georgia-raised New Yorker whose two previous albums on Verve announced her as one of the rare ones.

Most black (and a few white) women singers who sing with an ache are hailed as the new Billie Holiday (Corinne Bailey Rae? Gimme a break!) but for once the reference is relevant.

Wright made her name touring a Holiday tribute but she has stepped out as her own person, although now we hear "Nina Simone" and "Etta James" whispered about her.

Forget the comparisons then and simply let this album persuade you: the earthy blues, songs about the desperation of love, Joey Burns and John Convertino from Calexico, Larry Campbell from Dylan's band, a raunchy but restrained cover of Ike and Tina Turner's I Idolise You which oozes lust, a subtle country flavour in places, a touch of gospel . . .

Whether it be in a country-folk ballad style (Another Angel co-written with John Leventhal best known for his co-writes with/for Shawn Colvin) or taking Page-Plant's Thank You (from Led Zepp II) into moody winelight territory, Lizz Wright pours soul into these songs and deftly pulls it out again.

Understatement again proves the winner on the day.

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