While there is now a genre of music officially called Americana — a category that can either be characterized as full of diverse artists who aren’t afraid of mixing Roots music in with their sound or as a way to promote and market artists who can’t get on Country radio — there is still an unfortunate desire to drag artists like Liz Longley into the Country music miasma. Longley, a Berklee College of Music-schooled Pennsylvania native now based in Nashville, Tenn., is an exceptional talent. More than a beautiful voice, she is also a great songwriter who can mesmerize a room with just her vocals and a guitar.
Longley’s new self-titled album (the fourth full-length of her career) finds her music brought forth in an atmospheric-but-not-overdone way. Producer Gus Berry began recording the album after a very successful crowd-funding campaign. Longley was then signed to the venerable Sugar Hill Records label, which led to some production tweaks and a high-profile release last month. The list of guest musicians heard on this excellent recording includes an array of top-notch studio players who’ve previously performed with the likes of Dolly Parton, Jason Mraz, John Mayer and Reba McEntire.
Whatever category Longley finds herself in, the good news is she is staying true to her muse. That is less likely to happen if the Country music machinery consumes her, which is another reason real music fans should seek her out now — while the real music is flowing out of her.
LIZ LONGLEY plays Wednesday at Newport's Southgate House Revival. Tickets/more info here .