Shirley. Smoky-voiced, sensual, Shirley Eikhard has the full low tones of Sarah Vaughn and the bold spiritedness of Cleo Laine. Not only is her singing emotionally powerful, but, unusually enough, she wrote the songs that serve as its vehicle here. They range from intimate bossa nova ("Desperately") to up-tempo jazz ("Nothin' Like Love," "Crazy from the Heat") to smoky, bluesy torch ballad ("About Last Night") to time-twisting explorations ("Easy Sailin'" and the funky "A Little Fun").
Nor is that all. The bittersweet ballad "Emily Remembers" is a heart-rending story of an Alzheimer's victim; it approaches folk territory in instrumentation (guitar) and feel - and in the topicality of its subject matter. "Disciples of Cain" contains a similarly wrenching lyric, this time about abuse. Folk traces appear again on "If We Had Never Met" and the harmonica(!)-based "Going Home."
Ed Bickert plays a respectful, understated guitar, ably setting off Eikhard's subtly passionate voice. Marcus Printup contributes some stellar trumpet to "Disciples of Cain" and "Nothin' Like Love." Mike Murley's bluesy sax enlivens "About Last Night." Also on hand are Bob Erlendson (piano), George Koller (bass), and Mark Kelso (drums).
No fan of jazz vocals should miss Shirley Eikhard!