Vonda Shepard

From the Sun

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When Fox TV canceled Ally McBeal in 2002 and the comedy/drama's star Calista Flockhart moved on to other activities, there was some joking about Vonda Shepard in the music business. Most of the jokes were along these lines: "Oops! What is Vonda McBeal -- I mean Vonda Shepard -- going to do now? Go to law school, perhaps?" (Flockhart's Ally McBeal character was a lawyer). But those jokes were somewhat unfair. It's true that Shepard milked Ally McBeal for all it was worth; she contributed to no less than four Ally McBeal-related albums. However, Shepard was writing worthwhile songs long before Ally McBeal debuted in 1997 -- for Shepard, Ally McBeal was a lucky break that came after a lot of dues-paying -- and she continued to write them long after Ally McBeal's cancellation. Released in 2008 (the year Shepard turned 45), From the Sun comes six years post-Ally McBeal and is one of her most consistent albums. Some of the credit goes to Mitchell Froom, who produced this 34-minute CD and no doubt gave Shepard a lot of constructive feedback. But ultimately, most of the credit goes to Shepard, who wrote all of the material herself. One of the things that makes From the Sun a creative success is Shepard's willingness to provide some R&B-minded songs; her appreciation of classic soul is especially evident on "Ecstatic" and "Downtown (Dirtytown)," although she has never been an R&B singer in the strict sense. Rather, she is a pop/rock singer who occasionally brings R&B-minded songs to an adult alternative/adult contemporary orientation, and pop/rock is clearly the main ingredient on introspective tracks such as "Another January," "Where I Belong," "The Rocky Water," and "Finally Home." Shepard's albums haven't always been consistent, but From the Sun is one of her best releases and finds her in memorable form as both a vocalist and a songwriter.

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