On Lizz Wright’s upcoming new album Grace, she and producer Joe Henry treat her interpretation of Carolyn Franklin’s “Seems Like I’m Never Tired Lovin’ You” to a soulful, gospel-flavored arrangement — one of three tracks on the album to feature a full choir. But Wright took a different course for the song’s video, which is premiered exclusively below.
The clip features Wright and her backing quartet performing a stripped-down version of the song on July 5 at the Monument-National during the Festival International De Jazz De Montreal.
“The arrangement is essentially the same, but it’s really about the moment,” Wright tells Billboard. “Whoever is playing with me, they participate in the arrangement; I learned from Craig Street to really pool the stories and the skill and the voices of everybody around you on the bandstand to build an arrangement in the moment. That’s the way to communicate with people who are in front of you, so that’s what happened here. We had a really beautiful time in Montreal; I was overwhelmed to be honest with you. It was hard to get through the set without losing it, and I think that’s captured in [the video].”
The song itself was Henry’s suggestion as he and Wright selected material for Grace, which features nine covers — originally done by Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, k.d. lang, Allen Toussaint, Sister Rosetta Tharpe and others — and the original “All The Way Here,” which Wright co-wrote with Maia Sharp.
“I just wanted to finally document one of my beautiful musical conversations with my brother Joe,” Wright says of the project. “He’s one of the only people in the world I can talk to for an entire day; We turned into two kids in, like, a big game of finding and curating a message. Joe knows me well, and I don’t mind using other material, but I know what I’ve got to say, and my commitment to that is unyielding. I was hoping to write a song called ‘Grace;’ I had no idea who Rose Cousins was, but (her ‘Grace’) was the first thing he played for me and I just loved that.”
“Seems I’m Never Tired Loving You” hit Wright in a similar way. “If this record were a body, that’s the heart,” Wright says. “It’s a very affectionate way of saying, ‘I belong here. This is my home. I’m very clear about who we all are to each other, and I’m not tired of that. I’m invested in that.’ I love it. I’m grateful that Joe brought it to my attention.”
Grace comes out Sept. 15, the same day Wright launches a new round of U.S. dates at the Highline Ballroom in New York City. And during a particularly polarized time in the country, especially regarding race relations, Wright is hopeful Grace’s message will resonate as something of an alternative to the fury.
“I see Grace as an affectionate refusal of things that just aren’t true,” she explains. “With all our power and money and influence, we still can’t raise up high over people’s consciousness. We have work to do. If we work on it we can absolutely refuse any notion that suggest that after generations of contributing to this country, being a part of the bones and the marrow, that I’m supposed to be uncomfortable here. It’s absurd and sad and immoral. It doesn’t make any sense. So with tremendous love, and grace, I completely refuse.”