Vonda Shepard @ Feinstein’s
Feinstein’s at the Nikko, San Francisco, CA, November 18, 2016
Two opening numbers defined Vonda’s new tour in support of 2015’s CD Rookie. “In July”, a tasty tale of life on the road from 2002 and “Just Don’t Get It”, from her new album. They represent her signature sound; soft pop ballads and well-crafted, hook driven upbeat blue-eyed soul . A hit since her Emmy and Golden Globe winning role as a nightclub singer on Ally McBeal and her four bestselling soundtrack albums from the show, Shepard and longtime collaborators bassist Jim Hanson and guitarist James Ralston continue to churn out a high-energy evening of solid musicianship.
Shepard shows off her R&B vocal chops of tunes like “Respect Yourself” (Luther Ingram/Mack Rice), buoyed by some sizzling guitar work from Ralston, who worked with Tina Turner for 22 years, and some heavy grooves and vocal harmonies by Hanson. On “I Know Better”, Shepard demonstrates her considerable songwriting skills, full of introspective romantic imagery. Ditto for two tunes off 1996’s It’s Good Eve CD, “The Wildest Time of the World” (Michael Landau / Vonda Shepard) and “Every Now and Then”.
Shepard, Hanson and Ralston create a lot of sound, blending seamlessly into a single unit, the result of years of touring and arranging. A nice addition to the set was a sweet version of Frank Loesser’s “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” and of course, her chart-topping crowd favorite “Searchin’ My Soul” (Shepard/ Paul Howard Gordon), used in the Ally McBeal soundtrack, but written much earlier. Shepard continues her highly successful formula and that’s a very good thing.