Certainly, there is little of a spectacular nature achieved by Wright on Let in the Light, but it is in not creating a spectacle, or even attempting to, that Wright gives her music unique qualities.
Richly organic, down-to-earth, subtly moving -- Let in the Light, the latest effort from Shannon Wright, finds the Atlanta based singer-songwriter employing an unpretentious blend of folk, rock, blues and jazz to effectively and expressively communicate her poetry to others. The album's 11 songs ring with sincerity and simplicity, possessing the necessary ingredients to resonate for listeners who have a wide range of tastes and preferences.
One of the most striking features of the record is just how pure and modest Wright is in her presentation. There is virtually no flash and glitter to her music, enabling the success of the material to be based solely on the strength of her voice and writing. Vocally, Wright is mysterious, sultry, defiant and proud all at once, exhibiting both confidence and vulnerability. Active yet moody piano accompaniments (reminiscent at times of the dark animation of Tori Amos's work), cleanly played electric guitars, and steady yet unobtrusive percussion guide many of the album's arrangements, contributing to -- and causing, in many instances -- the unrefined, natural feel of the music.
At just 34 minutes in length, Let in the Light, which has no discernible hooks, still has to hook the listener immediately. Wright sets the tone for what is to come with the opening track, "Defy This Love." The song commences with an accented piano figure that both foreshadows and forebodes the entrance of Wright's vocals. As the track continues, it receives shape and being from hazy guitar fills and the embellishments, both flowing and forceful, which Wright performs on the piano.
"St. Pete" follows, with a drive and momentum that recalls the earliest editions of indie-rock, in almost Pixies-esque form; it adds an interesting musical color to the album as a whole. As the album continues, Wright continues within the tones and shades of the earlier songs. "You Baffle Me", one of the best tracks on the record, succeeds on the basis of another expressive piano lead and the lilting quality Wright achieves vocally. "When the Light Shone Down" and "Don't You Doubt Me" -- two other highlights -- rely more on guitar. The former features a beautiful, extended instrumental intro before settling into a restrained rock groove; the latter scales back with its opening guitar passage, but receives from it no less structure or guidance. "Steadfast and True", with its graceful, waltz-like opening, and the brisk, autumnal "Louise" are also shining moments for Wright and her supporting cast, which include Tin Cup Prophette principal Amanda Kapousouz, Andy Baker (who has worked on Elvis Costello and Drive By Truckers records, among his many credits as an engineer and studio player) and Kyle Crabtree (Shipping News).
Certainly, there is little of a spectacular nature achieved by Wright on Let in the Light, but it is in not creating a spectacle, or even attempting to, that Wright gives her music unique qualities. Let in the Light, though often blue in its emotions and tone, is a refreshing record that deserves attention.