Since releasing her debut EP in 2015, Essex singer-songwriter Lisa Wright has been quietly making a name for herself. She’s toured with Ward Thomas and Phil Vassar, and was named ‘One To Watch’ by the Nashville Songwriters Association. After recently opening for Cam at Islington Assembly Hall, last night Wright headlined at 229 The Venue to launch her third EP Mind Of Mine, which comes out tomorrow and has been described as her ‘most personal work to date’.
Wright opened her full band show with Rising Strong from her 2017 EP Wednesday’s Child. The uptempo song’s driving rhythm complimented Wright’s soulful yet sweet voice and contrasted her quick lyrical delivery. She followed that with the bluesy, rocky What Are You Waiting For, which she mixed with a rollicking cover of Beyonce’s Daddy Lessons.
Throughout the performance Wright combined tracks from her two previous EPs with songs from her upcoming record. This allowed her to show off her versatility, whether on the folky, delicate Before I Die, the lilting Waiting On Rain or the summery, laid-back Never Gonna Fall In Love, which mixed a poppy melody with bittersweet lyrics. She also frequently broke off to chat to the audience, making jokes and talking about the stories behind her songs, and encouraged them to clap and sing along throughout, particularly on her breathy, classic rock-influenced take on Time After Time.
However, the most memorable moments of the set came when Wright got the chance to show off her stunning vocals. An early highlight was Mind Of Mine, the title track from her new EP, which she wrote with Jake Etheridge (currently starring in Nashville). Wright described it as her ‘Carole King song’ in her intro and she did a brilliant job of capturing the feeling of being trapped in your head. It could have been an incredibly dark song but the sunniness in Wright’s voice added just enough light and the performance was incredibly affecting.
Other standout songs included the Ed Sheeran-esque Giving Up The Ghost, with its acoustic guitar, detailed imagery and echoey vocals, the a capella ending of Back To You, and the twangy Tennessee where Wright was joined on stage by her co-writer Kaity Rae. The two of them showed off their wonderful harmonies on the song to great effect, and I’d love to hear them duet together again in future.
Wright finished her set by thanking her band and the audience for coming out to support her, before performing In The End. It’s a song full of emotion and the simple arrangement was a perfect showcase for Wright’s stylish yet subdued vocals, making it even more powerful. As the song crescendoed towards the ending, the audience – who had fallen completely silent throughout – burst into cheers and applause. Wright then sang Why Would I Wanna, a stomping, sassy, defiant number which got the crowd singing along and closed the show on a high.
I’d been keen to see what Wright could do with a longer set since her impressive performance at Islington Assembly Hall, and she didn’t disappoint. She delivered an accomplished set which highlighted her soulful, rich vocals, as well as her ability as a songwriter and her engaging stage presence. For me she’s the full package and I predict that she’ll be a huge star of the UK country scene in the future.
Set list: 1. Rising Strong 2. What Are You Waiting For/Daddy Lessons (Beyonce cover) 3. Before I Die 4. Never Gonna Fall In Love 5. Mind Of Mine 6. Time After Time (Cyndi Lauper cover) 7. Giving Up The Ghost 8. Waiting On Rain 9. Tennessee (with Kaity Rae) 10. Back To You 11. In The End 12. Why Would I Wanna? Performance date: 23rd May 2018
Lisa’s new EP Mind Of Mine is out Friday 25th May. Listen to lead single Tennessee below: