Across four previous albums, Toronto vocalist, keyboardist and songwriter Elizabeth Shepherd has, much like Esperanza Spalding, developed a pop-jazz sound and soulful verve of tremendous cross-generational appeal. All of those albums showcased original tunes alongside the occasional cover, like the distinctly gritty reinterpretation of Kenny Loggins’ “Danny’s Song” she included on 2010’s Heavy Falls the Night.
As planning commenced for what would become Rewind, Shepherd discovered she was pregnant (the actual recording session unfolded during her eighth month) and decided it was an ideal time to revisit her musical roots, excavating and rechanneling the standards she’d grown up with.
Favoring minimalist settings—though Rewind features nine sidemen, most step in for just one or two tracks, and only drummer and percussionist Colin Kingsmore is featured throughout—Shepherd, with her keen beat-box sensibility, breathes new life into such timeworn gems as “Love for Sale,” “Midnight Sun,” “Feeling Good” and, in a winning duet with Denzal Sinclaire, “Prelude to a Kiss.”
Nor is she content with standard standards, imaginatively stretching her playlist to include legendary French singer-songwriter George Brassen’s charming “Les Amoureux des Bancs Publics,” Kurt Weill and Langston Hughes’ haunting “Lonely House,” a marvelously slinky reading of Cannonball Adderley’s “Sack of Woe,” and a chilling reimagining of Porgy & Bess’ “Buzzard Song.”