Steve Murray

Performing Arts Reviews

Lady Rizo 2017 370x238

Lady Rizo – Indigo

Lady Rizo
Lady Rizo Entertainment

Cult phenomenon Lady Rizo has dropped her long-awaited second CD Indigo and it should go far in advancing her growing fan base. Those familiar with Rizo’s sensational live performances will now have a lasting document to get us through the periods between gigs. Lushly produced by Ben Yonas, who produces the heavily orchestral opuses of Spencer Day,   Indigo highlights Lady Rizo’s remarkable vocal skills as well as her considerable songwriting talent.

Eight of the ten tracks are co-written by Rizo (nee Amelia Zirin-Brown) with longtime collaborator/arranger/musician Yair Evnine, or Spencer Day, Ethan Allen, Hans Teuber and David Peter Mellish. They range from slow tempo disco, pop, ballad and light blues. Lady Rizo live is an over-the-top, scintillating blend of comedy, theatre, astute banter and hilarious audience participations. Studio Rizo focuses attention on her impressive vocal skills; her phrasing, vocal control and ability to draw you deeply into the lyric. A lot happened to Amelia over the past four years; dissolution of her 12-year marriage, the dark period that followed, new love and a baby, all fertile ground for the variety of material presented her.

Opening with the positively buoyant “Hit of You” (Lady Rizo/Yair Evnine), LR could be singing of her new baby or her new man – they’re both delicious I’m sure. “Albatross” (Lady Rizo, Ethan Allen, David Peter Mellish) on the flip side, documents Rizo’s pain and torment at spending her first New Year’s Eve alone sans husband. “Gypsy in Me” (Lady Rizo, Hans Teuber) finds the touring artist reflecting on life on the road. The studio allows Rizo to open wide the musicality of each number and she takes full advantage of working with producer/multi-instrumentalist Ben Yonas. Each number creates a separate atmosphere with the addition of Wurlitzer’s, cellos, and fantastic horn arrangements by Bay Area wiz Adam Theis. Recorded in Memphis’ famed Royal Studio, home of the Memphis soul sound, a song like her original “It’s Alright” is a classic soul composition that would make Etta James proud.

Rizo’s material is both theatrical, mysterious and smart. The moody “Sometimes the Sky’s Too Bright” is based on as Dylan Thomas’ poem of the same name, and “Bittersweet” is an abstract, surrealistic number based on Stephen Crane’s In the Desert. Through Yair Evnine there’s a six-degree-of-separation to gifted songwriter Spencer Day and Rizo includes a cover of his wry twist on Hollywood fame in “The Ghost of the Chateau Marmont”. Day also co-wrote the very orchestral and hummable “Living in Color” (Lady Rizo/Yair Evnine /Spencer Day) which well, actually explodes in musical colors. A haunting rendition of James Shelton’s intoxicating “Lilac Wine” came to LR via Jeff Buckley via Nina Simone. The narrative of heartache after a loss is heartfelt and genuine.

Indigo, with its lush production values and seriously skilled songwriting, should be the vehicle that pushes Lady Rizo into much wider recognition and acclaim. Combined with her wildly creative live performances, Indigo marks Lady Rizo as a complete entertainment package. Knowing her drive, there’s still more to add and the sky’s the limit.

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