Don’t get me wrong I like lashings of sharp 90 degree riffs played by skinny kids in ripped cardigans, cute indie popsters singing about how boys are horrid, punishing European techno with not very subtle S&M overtones and woozy folktronica with wobbly choruses (usually in Welsh ) as much as the next moccasin wearing hipster but sometimes it’s nice just to bathe in the sultry vocal warmth of a real classy singer. Hello? Vonda? Yes, I mean you.
‘Classy’, a rare phrase nowadays but in this instance a perfectly fitting one, for Vonda Shepard, who is now onto album number fourteen. I’d never heard of her until recently and I suppose some of you Philistines will call this middle of the road territory or heaven forbid, BBC Radio 2 playlist fodder. She was after all the bar room singer for five long seasons of Ally McBeal, the most middle road of all US TV shows in recent years.
But having such a narrow view would be a pity as Vonda proves here that she can pack a punch on rollicking self-penned, strutting bluesy numbers and is equally at home knocking out a tuneful ballad, think Janis Joplin without the self destruct button. I imagine the only thing Vonda is addicted to is muesli and attending regular yoga classes in the mall on Thursdays, yes, she’s a clean living gal and seemingly without the cliched rock n roll baggage, and what’s more she has hair to die for darling.
The title track, Rookie, Need Your Love and Turn It Up are confident mid tempo stompers, they’ll drag you onto the dance floor, do some pouting then touch your arse accidentally. If you wait long enough she’ll bang out some tearing at the heartstrings songs about lurve lost and lurve gone done wrong, see Looking for the Days and Tell My Body for further details.
Miss Shepard shows that she is the perfect antidote to vacuous technicolour-twerking, teenage girl pop star and boy band banality and should appeal to fans of Sheryl Crow, Lucinda Williams and apprentice hairdressers everywhere. A rookie cookie monster of a fourteenth album.
By John Haylock