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Deborah Shulman: My Heart's In The Wind

Dan Bilawsky By

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My Heart's In The Wind is a modest and muted affair, understated in nature yet emotionally stirring in its own way. It's a collection of music that speaks directly to intimacy, loss, and the bends in life's road. The eleven tracks presented on this quiet beauty tap into a variety of emotions, with love, sadness, mourning, life's vagaries, and the grip of memory all serving as wellsprings of creativity for Los Angeles-based vocalist Deborah Shulman.

Shulman's parents passed away exactly six months apart from each other, and much of this music seems to serve as her coping mechanism for dealing with those devastating losses. Stephen Sondheim's "Loving You," touchingly performed here with sensitive backing from guitarist Larry Koonse, recalls a moment when Shulman and her father bonded over their mutual loss and love while attending a performance of the composer's Passion; "You Are There" is a fond look back at times spent with the dearly departed; and Tom Waits' "Shiver Me Timbers" tells the tale of life and the great beyond as painted upon water. While spread out across the album, all three numbers form a suite of sorts. In other places—"My Foolish Heart," an emotionally resonating, piano initiated "Where Do I Go From Here," a casually waltzing "Sometime Ago"—Shulman explores the complicated nature of love in other shapes. These songs are perspective-rich mini-dramas, expertly sculpted and thoroughly dissected.

Shulman's theater background and extreme poise push a good amount of this material away from jazz territory and toward the realm of cabaret singing and modern art song, but those who travel with her help to balance the scales a bit. Pianist Terry Trotter, who arranged all of the material and co-produced the album with Shulman, is classy as can be, whether soloing or serving in a support role; Koonse adds a dab of the unexpected, both in his solo work and his accompaniment; and bassist Kenny Wild and drummer Joe La Barbera provide light touch support when they appear.

This album was recorded in 2007, but it lived life in limbo for quite a while: a label that Shulman was under contract with at the time never put it out, and, despite her best efforts, Shulman wasn't able to get the music very far with a limited self-release campaign. While it's easy to understand how a ballad-centric record that refuses to look at love with rose-colored glasses and examines the intersections between life and death isn't an easy sell, music as fine as this deserves to be heard. So kudos to Summit Records for releasing it.

Track Listing: The Shining Sea; A Sleepin' Bee; My Foolish Heart; Loving You; My One And Only Love; Never Never Land; Sometime Ago; This Hotel; You Are There; Where Do I Go From Here; Shiver Me Timbers.

Personnel: Deborah Shulman: vocals; Terry Trotter: piano; Larry Koonse: guitar; Ken Wild: bass; Joe LaBarbera: drums.

Title: My Heart's In The Wind | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Summit Records

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