20 May 2008
Spoke Too Loud by Sheila Sondergard
I heard the first 15-seconds of the song Spoke Too Loud and immediately fell in love with Sheila Sondergard's music.
There are so many moving and magical narrative elements in this effort that it seems almost elusive and unreal. Sheila slides from light progressive jazz in one tune to folksinger in the next, and then on to indie rocker and beyond. Her proficient guitar picking is backed ably by an award winning and intuitive band.
The bottom line is that the entire CD is a tremendous first effort. The arrangements are exquisite and deftly showcase her band (Grammy Award winning Billy Ray on drums, Chuck Prada on percussion, Jason Littlefield on bass, Sean Martin on guitar and Jeremy Miller on keyboards).
Most shining among them is the infectious title track, whose flavor is easily augmented by the jazzy skills of this impressive backing band. Spoke Too Loud is so musically expressive it could run considerably longer in free form style without losing any of it's magic.
But I don't want to take away from Sheila's vocal abilities. She has a classy, full and throaty voice which actually outshines the band on the tracks Same Ol' Bend, Clue and Change. Just listen to her lament "Everyone's heart breaks and we do what we can to make it through the days" on the song Clue and you will see that she can command, and in fact demands the listener's full attention.
In all, this disc delivers on all fronts. Listeners will delight in the breadth of Sondergard's skill and will appreciate the versatility of her craft. Her lyrics weave copious story lines that fit perfectly with the subtle melodies inherent in her words. They have even coined the term "intellipop" to define their musical genus, an extremely diverse and cohesive sound free of boundaries and stereotypes, intelligent, and thought provoking. That is dead-on accuracy.