Finding Peace of Mind
Great music sneaks up on you. So, when singer-songwriter Liz Longley took the stage at City Winery in Nashville and began to sing the hope-filled “Baby I’m Alive Again,” unaccompanied and without introduction, there was a sense of the unexpected, which heralded a crisp and smart set of songs.
The night was a record release show for her self-titled new album, her first since signing with Sugar Hill Records. She calls it her new old record, saying that the songs have been around for several years. Songs from the album were all strong, like “Memphis,” which boasts a great hook, and emotionally charged songs like “Peace of Mind” and “Out of My Head.” Newer songs, like “Electricity” and “Weightless,” promise good things in the future.
Longley’s gentle good humor provided a smooth transition between songs. Talking about an ex-boyfriend, she said the relationship only lasted a short time but provided several songs. (Not a bad by-product.)
When introducing her guest — local singer-songwriter Robby Hecht — she mentioned telling him how much she loved one of his songs, which turned out to be the Townes Van Zandt song, “If I Needed You.” The pair then sang that one to near perfection.
Longley’s sound hearkens back to some of the great vocalists of the last several decades of popular music; a point which was driven home with a choice cover of the Stevie Nicks-penned Fleetwood Mac song, “Rhiannon.”
Longley closed the main set with “Camaro” from her new album, and then returned for an encore with two songs from her 2010 album, Hot Loose Wire: “When You’ve Got Trouble” and a magical version of the Van Morrison classic, “Moondance”.
Texas-born, Nashville-based songwriter Brian Wright opened the night with his story-songs, which are filled with colorful characters, evocative imagery, and delivered in a powerfully authentic voice. Highlights of his set were the opener, “Maria Sugarcane,” from his 2011 album, House on Fire, and his song about the “Red Rooster Social Club” from his 2013 album, Rattle Their Chains. Wright closed his set with a cover of the Woody Guthrie song, “Biggest Thing a Man Has Ever Done.”