Helen Sheppard sings, writes all her own songs, and makes a vivid and sometimes suprising impression on this debut, made for the unlikely foster home of a new offshoot of Leo Records. She’s not exactly a jazz singer, too cool to be soul, too grown-up for pop: call it a jazz-coloured singer-songwriter set and you’ll be about there.
The singer she reminds me of is Laura Nyro – try “Reeling”, especially. Like Nyro, she has quite a big range, and sometimes wails at the top end of it when she wants to emote – either very effective or perhaps a bit overcooked, if you’re not feeling sympathetic. But the record has charm and intelligence, and the music is nicely nuanced, recorded live with no overdubs as the sleeve proudly proclaims. Tom Unwin acts as MD and he keeps it spare and sweetly supportive, with good little cameos for Green and Holland in particular.
Deprived of the gloss of a major-label production, Sheppard is sometimes a little exposed here, but she tends to breeze past any nerves she might have had: this is a very confident performer who trusts her material. The songs work a personal variation on many of the concerns of the genre: a few times she resorts to cliche, but this is her first record after all. Besides, here’s a jazz-based performer ignoring the standard songbook and going her own way, which is what everybody’s been asking for. A very promising start.”
— JOHN TRUITT, Jazzreview
Hello Tomorrow – Helen Sheppard
You Dont Love Me – Helen Sheppard
Dont Say Goodbye – Helen Sheppard