Vonda Shepard

Ally McBeal: For Once in My Life Featuring Vonda Shepard

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Ally McBeal: For Once in My Life Featuring Vonda Shepard, the fourth quasi-soundtrack album tied to the hit TV series, was released on April 24, 2001. That night, actor Robert Downey Jr. had another of his drug-related run-ins with the law, and the next day, he was fired from the show. This was particularly unfortunate timing for an album that displayed Downey's face (along with Shepard's) on its cover and featured him singing on three tracks. But the real problem with the disc is the same one its predecessors share. On the program, Shepard covers a variety of 1960s and '70s evergreens in a bar, which is fine and plays into the nostalgia of the audience. But the performances face a different standard when they're placed on record. Why do we need Shepard's adequate treatment of Tim Hardin's "Reason to Believe" when we could be listening to Rod Stewart's definitive one? Of course, the point is that the show's viewers, many of whom no doubt only know these songs from the show, will be delighted. Then, too, some of the material features in specific episodes. For example, if you caught the April 30, 2001, episode in which Sting guest stars and ends up singing with Downey, you may enjoy their track here. If not, you're going to be asking, "Who's that guy with the wheezy voice singing with Sting on 'Every Breath You Take,' and why is the arrangement so lame?" Shepard, as usual, can't resist altering lyrics. In Gilbert O'Sullivan's "Alone Again (Naturally)," she changes "God" to "love." Maybe she doesn't like questioning His existence, or maybe she doesn't like referring to Him as "He" -- who knows? But if you don't like a song's lyrics, there's a simple solution: Don't sing it.

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