I was completely unfamiliar with this vocalist when her music came wafting my way. West coast based Deborah Shulman is an actor/singer and vocal coach. This is her third CD. It shimmers.
Ballad after ballad, including several unknown to me, emerge with dreamy, contemplative nuance. Consonants are softened, lyrics sighed forth. Accompaniment is so delicate, I wonder it’s achieved by something as clumsy as fingers. This is an unabashedly sentimental journey during which it’s easy to lose oneself in personal, sometimes melancholy memories. Pour yourself a glass of wine and curl up.
“The Shining Sea” (Johnny Mandel/Peggy Lee) is languid and rich. Piano emulates white wave caps, small frissons. I see her sitting at a window or on a porch, reeds below slightly bending in the sand; as iconic as an Edward Hopper painting. “My Foolish Heart” (Victor Young/Ned Washington) is another internal conversation, this one buoyed on fluid guitar. I think I hear gratitude and surprise.
Stephen Sondheim’s gorgeous “Loving You” (from Passion) is given its due. The song arrives with gravitas, truth. One can feel the exhilaration and also the weight of such extreme emotion. I recall something my mother advised, “Hold tightly with an open hand.” “Never Never Land” (Betty Comden/Adolph Green/Jule Stein from Peter Pan) is unquestionably a lullaby; pristine, comforting, warm, perhaps a little sad as sung by an adult past flight.
“A Sleepin’ Bee” (Harold Arlen/Truman Capote) and “Sometime Ago” (Sergio Mihanovich) are the only two numbers performed in casual, mid-tempo swing. During the first, one imagines happily kicking a stone down a wooded path while the second evokes raised eyebrows and sophisticated resignation: Now I’m discovering/As I’m recovering/Love was really just a game/But we’re the only ones to blame.
“This Hotel” (Johnny Keating/Richard Quine) is cinematic. A greying woman, having left family behind, returns to find yellowing wallpaper and cigarette burned carpet in the room she last saw her one true love. “Where Do I Go From Here?” (Jerry Bock/Sheldon Harnick from Fiorello) is a blanket of blue tenderness. Tom Waits’ “Shiver Me Timbers” is elegiac. I could listen to this one on a loop.
My solitary quibble with the disc, and this is admittedly after having basked in its muted pleasures – it’s too much the same. Arrangements verge on interchangeable. With this kind of talent, stunning effect could, I think, be secured with variation. Romantics should nonetheless click on the CD cover or the title below to purchase.
Deborah Shulman has disarmingly lovely voice. Her musicians are completely symbiotic.
Photo of Deborah Shulman by Mikel Healey
My Heart’s In The Wind
Terry Trotter-Piano, Larry Koonse-Guitar, Ken Wild-Bass, Joe LaBarbera-Drums