Coffee and Gifts, the debut compact disc of Minnesota singer/songwriter Lisa Briggs, combines elements of acoustic folk, jazz and pop evocative of Joni Mitchell and Shawn Colvin. A collection of all original tunes, the album spans the musical spectrum from lush ballads to infectious swing and jazz-flavored rock. The richly varied arrangements on the album feature vocalist Lisa Briggs on acoustic guitar and piano, along with a host of professional guest artists.
A seasoned performer...Lisa's clear soprano has been heard in an impressive range of concert venues and musical styles, from award-winning commercials and several university-produced staged rock extravaganzas which were televised on a five-state public television network, to perfomances before thousands at Minnesota's famed WE Fest country music festival and with international radio star Garrison Keillor. Now living in Nashville, Lisa performs as a solo artist and also with supporting musicians as an intimate acoustic act. She recently was chosen, through audition, to be an occasional performer at Nashville's famed Bluebird Cafe. Her personal warmth, clear shimmering voice and sophisticated phrasing bring enthusiastic audiences coming back to repeat appearances.
Lush acoustic sounds...Colorful variety of both sounds and musical material mark Coffee and Gifts as an album which grows richer with repeated listenings. Guest artists on the disc include an array of backing vocalists, jazz woodwinds, cello, intriguing percussion and live string quartet to supplement the foundation of acoustic guitar. Chan Poling, formerly leader of Minneapolis legendary punk band, The Suburbs, and currently a Nashville songwriter, makes a special guest appearance on keyboards and grand piano.
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MP3 sound clip: Baby Blues
Reviewers have been enthusiastic in their praise of Lisa's songwriting and performance. This excerpt from reviewer David M. Meyers of the Davis (California) Enterprise:
- "In a world gone retro, someone finally remembered to bring back good music. While digging through the goodies contained in this disc, I found major 7th chords, chromatic descension and resolved suspensions everywhere. For those who haven't taken music theory, that means this is real pretty stuff. Carly Simon and Carole King must be very proud.
- You actually can judge this disc by its cover. Hailing from Minnesota, Briggs delivers an hour of middle-Americana, and it was no surprise to learn of her recent performance with radio star Garrison Keillor. For those homesick for the Midwest--a bit oxymoronic to me--this disc certainly reflects a wholesomeness often associated with hot chocolate, warm fires, antiques and cardigans.
- Even if country kitchen isn't your style, you'll still find much to appreciate in Briggs' rich young voice. Although at times I began to hear sprinkles of Nashville, Briggs never succumbs, and this CD is far too good to land in the twang-heap.
- Along with the lush ballads and jazz-flavored swing, "Postcards from Spain" and "Waiting for Jane" sound so much like soulful Broadway show tunes, I had to look outside to make sure everyone around me wasn't breaking out into song (not that I'd mind--as long as I knew my part).
- Anyone who cites Billy Joel as a musical influence scores immediate Brownie points, but bribery attempts aside, this one is pure and sweet."
--Thursday, May 1, 1997, David M. Meyers, The Davis Enterprise (Davis, California)
Words and influences...Rich poetic lyrics, vivid scenic images, and traces of jazz reveal a compelling artistry throughout the album. "My musical influences are pretty eclectic--everyone from Bob Dylan and Billy Joel to kd lang, Ella Fitzgerald and Kate Bush," notes Briggs. From her life experiences in Minnesota, Nashville and abroad, Lisa crystallizes imagery, sounds and personal experiences into songs of delicate beauty and emotional strength.
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