Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
It's Good Eve
Genres: Pop, R&B, Rock
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Pop songstress comes into her own
John Jones | Chicago IL | 06/29/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Years before "Ally McBeal" and mainstream success came calling, Vonda Shepard was releasing solid pop material that her label, Reprise Records, was in no hurry to promote. Evidence of their error is found in the fact that "Searchin My Soul," from her "Radical Light" album, became a huge hit and the "Ally" theme song, while "Baby Don't You Break My Heart Slow," originally from her self-titled debut, was another smash when it was re-recorded as a duet with the Indigo Girls' Emily Sailers for the second volume of the "Ally McBeal" soundtrack. Reprise execs must be kicking themselves by now.But if this isn't enough to convince you that Vonda Shepard is more than the McBeal mouthpiece that belts out classic pop tunes for the benefit of Ally's plotlines, look no further than the understated masterpiece that is 1996's "It's Good, Eve." Recorded and released right before production on "Ally" was underway, this record is largely responsible for Vonda getting the television gig, and it's no wonder in the least. Leaving behind the slicker stabs at commercial success that she attempted on Reprise, Vonda produced some of the most lovely and organic acoustic pop you've heard since the heyday of Carole King, Carly Simon, and Joni Mitchell.Vonda starts off with two compositions that draw the listener in slowly but surely with both haunting melody and personal, confessional lyrics...when Vonda sings "never worry about what I did wrong/and that I'll never be what my daddy wanted me to be/and I'll never see what my mama's dreams were" on "Maryland," it's evident that finding her own path hasn't been easy for Shepard, but the artistic payoff apparently made the struggle worthwhile. This notion is driven home on "A Lucky Life," a stunning piece that celebrates living for your art. Things picks up a bit on "Grain of Sand," which boasts a brush-kit rhythm section that moves like a gently-insistent locomotion. The song's juxtaposition of acoustic guitar pop and a Middle-Eastern inspired vocal riff laid over a sitar lick make for an immediately striking effect that is easily the album's best moment.Elsewhere on the record Shepard makes an argument for the old theory of less being more: on "Like a Hemisphere" the drums don't come in until after the second chorus, and the simple arrangement of piano, guitar, and multiple vocals from Vonda have the fullness and elegance of a symphony. And of course mature and insightful lyrics like "why can't we see in outselves/all the beauty we see in everybody else?" make it all the more obvious that Vonda is a significant talent. Other strong ballads are "Long Term Boyfriend" and "Every Now and Then," confessional relationship pieces that manage to skirt the realm of Joni Mitchell without borrowing from any particular item in the legend's cache.This isn't to say that Vonda's work is without drive and energy, however: "Naivete" is a forceful uptempo rocker that makes a strong case for your own personal reality being better than the one everyone makes you think you should inhabit, while the bridge in "This Steady Train" takes a quaint pop ballad and turns it on its ear with a 6/8 time signature change and a psychedelic guitar lick. The only moment less than stellar is "Mischief & Control," an exploration of the multiple personalities and identities within everyone. The lyrical concept is good enough, but the Middle-Eastern vocal riff from "Grain of Sand" is duplicated here and the songs are even in the same key, so "Mischief" comes off as a carbon-copy afterthought. Easygoing, 70's-reminiscent pop like "The Wildest Times of the World" more than pick up the slack, however.Throughout the record Vonda's vocals are another noteworthy achievement, as if the maturity in the writing coaxed her to uncover new nuances and layers to her voice that her earlier work didn't inspire. Throw in the fact that she impressively produced the album with Michael Landau and you have every shred of evidence you will ever need to prove that Shepard is one of the most important artists of our times, never without a striking musical platform for her mature lyrical thoughts. Sure, after years of toiling away unappreciated, she more than deserves her recent television success, and it does one good to hear her on the radio and see her sell out venues across the country. But one listen to "It's Good, Eve" will show you that while, for a lot of people, "Ally McBeal" is where Vonda Shepard begins, it is just as certainly not where she ends."
A great first Vonda CD
John Jones | 12/14/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you aren't sure which CD of Vonda's to first pick up, try It's Good Eve. It's a collection of slower songs that really shows how talented she is. Her individual follow up, By 7:30 is a great one too- less acoustical and much faster, probably more mainstream, but this CD is my favorite and the one I listen to the most."
Refreshing with a strange flavor of the past
John Jones | 02/13/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I find her work to be almost haunting. There is something not being said behind the arrangement and the great voice. I truly hope that Vonda continues her work and joins the legends ...Carly Simon, Carole King, Joni Mitchell...where she can certainly take her own place as she grows as musician."