Elizabeth Shepherd Parkdale

Elizabeth Shepherd Parkdale
Shepherd’s debut two years ago heralded a promising young singer who used the piano trio format as a springboard for ideas rooted in jazz but stretched into other rhythm-first ideas. Parkdale’s production benefits from Ben Lamdin, who navigates similar courses with Nostalgia 77. Trumpet and percussion broaden the instrumentation, giving more latitude and propulsion to the sound. The title track is a perfect showcase of this updated sound, where bongos add a lot to the driving 6/8 tune. Similarly, the album’s high point, the suite-like "Con Alma,” pushes forward with conviction. However, Parkdale’s ten tracks prove to be an elaboration of her first album rather than a great leap forward. Shepherd’s vocal delivery, while lovely and rich, is ultimately a liability. Her lyrics and songwriting have improved but her vocal melodies are completely bound up in the chord changes, which become overly predictable after a while. Her vocals never break out and rise above the band, as they did on the faster songs of her debut. Neither is her piano soloing all that assertive. The few Monk-like stammers that crop up here and there pique the ears in a very welcome way. There are a lot of good ideas on this disc but Shepherd’s sound is still developing. (Do Right!)