JPR Live Session: Liz Longley

Jun 19, 2015

Liz Longley has a gift for culling musical treasures as though straight from thin air. The collection of 11 songs on her new record were recorded in Nashville with an all-pro band-and in a pulse-quickening fashion so rare in today's world of overproduced, airbrushed records.

"I love being in the studio and feeding off the energy of other musicians. It's not something I get to do often on the road because I've mostly toured solo." While Longley's songs and vocals invite complimentary comparisons to Shawn Colvin, Paula Cole and Nanci Griffith - all artists she's supported live - her latest effort spotlights a style and confidence that's all her own. You can hear it in the subtle-yet-soaring vocals on "Memphis," the dagger directness of "Skin and Bones," the bittersweet farewell that drives "This Is Not the End" (featured in the 2012 season finale of Lifetime's Army Wives). They're all cuts that dare you to hold back the goosebumps.

In fact, Longley's singing never fails to thrill and enthrall. Her voice and tone, touched with the slightest of country inflections, pours out like clean, crystalline water. Still, she can roar like a waterfall or flow effortlessly along the bed her backing band lays down, as on "Peace of Mind." The track showcases Longley yearning after silence and stillness to beat back demons of self-doubt.

Longley first felt the magic of music while growing up outside of Philadelphia. A song she wrote in ninth grade-her first ever-earned a standing ovation when she performed it for the student body: "I was unprepared for that sort of reaction and it was life-changing moment," she says. "That's when I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life."