MY DAY IN THE SUN / Review by Lesley Mitchell-Clarke (February 27, 2015)
Shirley Eikhard is one of the most significant, contemporary singer/songwriter/composers that Canada has ever produced.
She has created hit songs for a variety of international artists - blurring the lines between musical genres and embracing elements of country, blues, pop and soul. Eikhard's Grammy-winning song Something To Talk About became a megahit for the incomparable Bonnie Raitt and she has also penned material for such diverse artists as Cher, Rita Coolidge, Anne Murray. Emmylou Harris and Chet Atkins.
Eikhard's latest project, My Day In The Sun, is rife with her trademark lyrical and melodic skill. Each track is an original Eikhard composition, and a synesthetic treat - in other words, a satisfying delight for the head, heart, eyes, ears and spirit.
The reggae/Ska influenced opener Pray For Rain features clever multi-tracked vocals (as well as an appropriate Farfisa-like keyboard patch) and sets the stylistic tone for the entire CD on which Eikhard not only sings all the parts but also plays all the instruments.
Her rich, warm, alto voice easily wraps itself around the soulful, rhythmic tracks and effortlessly imbues each song with her distinctive lyrical poetry and profound emotional content. The title track explores her very personal journey as a mature artist....a journey that has not only wended its way through a long and meaningful career, but a career that is as artistically relevant now as it has ever been. It is a joy to hear Eikhard singing in her own, authentic voice - with more than a little positivity, power and truth (elements often lacking in today's simplistic pop tunes).
Of particular note is What Could Have Been - an anthem about putting the past in perspective and moving ahead into a joyous future.
This new release is more a pop record than any record she's done in the last 20 years.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.
There are certain artists whose records I look forward to hearing with an almost embarrassing sense of enthusiasm.
No, I don't jump up and down in the street and scream "it's here" the way Steve Martin did when his new phonebook arrived in The Jerk.
But it's close.
I get wide-eyed and goofy, like a kid latching onto the Sears Christmas catalogue for the first time.
A new record by James Taylor generates that kind of response.
The same thing happens when something comes down the line from Bonnie Raitt or Keb' Mo' or Sting or Steely Dan's Donald Fagen.
And it happens when I find myself staring down at a new record from Shirley Eikhard.
That's because Eikhard, like the artists referenced earlier, has always delivered the goods.
And that is certainly the case on My Day In The Sun, which officially hits the street next week.
Eikhard, who despite a long list of accomplishments is still best known for penning Bonnie Raitt's Grammy Award-winning 1992 hit Something To Talk About, has crafted an album here that checks off every box on the list of what a good record should be:?handsomely crafted songs with lyrics that have something worthwhile to impart about life, people, relationships, the challenges life presents us and how we deal with them. And they're all wrapped around melody lines that keep you hitting repeat because you've become so absorbed by the groove.
It also has vocals that make you stop whatever else you were trying to do and just listen because you don't want to miss anything.
That's because Eikhard sings the way an artist paints, adding colour, texture, depth and light in just the right measure in just the right places.
Her voice, long one of my favourites, is a superb instrument and one over which she seems to have absolute control.
High production values are the icing on the cake.
What else should you know about the record?
My Day In The Sun is more of a pop record than any record she's done in the last 20 years. For a number of years her output has primarily been jazz-oriented, with excursions into reggae.
She still embraces reggae here on tracks like Timing Is Everything and What Could Have Been but you'll also find acoustic pop, soul, R&B and some other interesting things.
It should be noted that this is not a new record in the truest sense of the word.
My Day In The Sun does contain a number of newer songs but it also features several of her older songs, some dating as far back as the 1980s.
But even they sound new because Eikhard has revisited and re-invented them with some wonderful new arrangements.
Eikhard wrote every track, provided all vocals and played every instrument. She also produced, arranged and engineered the record.
During the same time period she still found time to work with Cher on Cher's Closer To The Truth album and contributed a song to the Diane Keaton/Michael Douglas film And So It Goes.
Choice cuts here include My Day In The Sun, Timing Is Everything, Pray For Rain, You Can't Go Back to Sleep, Roll That Rock and I Know Myself Too Well.
By BILL ROBERTSON, The StarPhoenix, January 29, 2015
The central vision and mantra of longtime Canadian Chanteuse Shirley Eikhard on her 19th album, My Day In The Sun, is truth – both for self and others.
The album opens with a number of upbeat songs about happiness coming to Shirley. She used to be miserable, but, as she sings on Smiling On The Inside, her insides now match the smile she used to paste on.
The title tune is a finger picked guitar song of acceptance. Eikhard has had her big day in the sun with all its attendant pressures - the woman’s songwriting accomplishments alone are stunning – but now she accepts she’s older and wants the freedom of moving on.
After such songs of affirmation, Eikhard gets a few things off her chest in songs such as Timing Is Everything, with its hockey arena organ, syncopated beat, and flute. Some person was a little late with the truth here, and in Nasty Little Words, with its soulful organ and tambourine, she condemns those who speak first and think later.
Shirley's friend didn’t want to hear the truth in What Could Have Been and she has trouble with that nasty old truth herself in the easy reggae of I Know Myself Too Well. Eikhard wrote these 11 songs and performed all the instruments, produced, engineered and arranged them all at home in Mono.
This woman and her still-alluring voice are a force of nature.
A perfect mix of music
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Within the first few bars of The Stuff of Dreams, the opening track from Shirley Eikhard's Dream of a Perfect Day, I could feel the warmth of the sun on my face and the hint of a summer breeze on the back of my neck.
Two tracks in and I'm walking down Balneario Beach in Rio as street musicians play the music of Antonio Carlos Jobim and Gilberto Gil.
Some music just says summer. Afro-Brazilian jazz is like that.
The rhythms and the melody lines of samba, bossa nova and choro music seem to peel away the trials and tribulations of everyday life and transport you to a place where the only distractions are the waves washing up on shore and the wind whispering to the trees.
Reggae is like that, too.
I would find it difficult to listen to people like Jimmy Cliff, Toots and the Maytals or Third World and not slip into a lazy summer groove.
Eikhard's Dream of A Perfect Day, her first album of new music in three years, has that kind of feel pretty much from beginning to end.
A groove-laden mix of bossa nova, samba, reggae and jazzy pop sounds with a dash of R&B, this set massages the senses with syncopated rhythms, easy melodies and Eikhard's gorgeous vocal work.
Dream of A Perfect Day features 12 finely crafted Eikhard originals recorded at her own studio in Hockley Valley, Ont.
The subject matter is an interesting melange of things but falls basically under two headings: songs about nature and songs documenting some of her astute observations about the human condition.
On The Stuff of Dreams, for example, the award-winning singer-songwriter writes about love and lost dreams.
Her love of nature comes out in two songs, Paddles In The Water, which speaks to her love of kayaking the waterways near her home, and Hear The Cicada, a song about the winged beastie of the same name that frequents tropical countries.
She reflects on the inner workings of politics on Boys In The Backroom.
One of my favourite pieces is I Work Alone, a song she wrote about a career criminal.
Very much a one-woman show, Eikhard, who grew up in Sackville, N.B., produced, arranged and engineered this record. She played guitar, piano, bass drums, chromatic harmonica and any other instrument you hear here.
She also provided all lead and backing vocals.
If you love the sounds of samba, bossa nova and reggae, this is one of those records that will make you feel good every time you put it on.
Choice cuts on Dream of A Perfect Day include Human to Human, Rico Nights, The Nature of Life, Dream of A Perfect Day and Paddles In The Water.
Doug Gallant,The Guardian
If the music world was fair, Shirley Eikhard would be a lot better known than she is now. As it is, we can just be grateful that this talented woman is still making music and putting it out there, 40 years after she started.
Title track of Dream of a Perfect Day is a steam-cooker samba getting by on organ and percussion, with a simple little electric piano solo. In it, Eikhard, with her soulful, slightly husky voice, gives a description of such a day. But it's opener The Stuff of Dreams that really draws you in: A harmonica playing minors and sevenths over a gentle guitar in a sensuous tribute to a guy seeking the perfect wave. Wow, surf's up.
The syncopated jazz-pop of I Work Alone is about a woman doing just that in the field of romance, while Hear the Cicada is upbeat samba, a sensuous dance.
The Nature of Life is a bit of philosophy set to a bouncing bass and some electro steel drums. The political Boys in the Back Room and Paddles in the Water, which sings the praises of kayaking among the geese, are reggae tunes.
The remarkable thing about this lovely, simple album is that Eikhard plays all the instruments and sings all the parts. The more you hear, the cooler that gets, but she had me with track one.
BY BILL ROBERTSON, FOR THE STARPHOENIX, MARCH 14, 2012
"Offering a special tribute to the increasingly popular Bossa Nova which celebrates its 50th year anniversary, veteran Canadian songwriter, vocalist and musician extraordinaire, Shirley Eikhard provides a masterpiece performance with "Riding On The 65", her latest self-produced release that glows all over"
-- Edward Blanco, ejazznews.com (Florida, USA journalist)
"Her dreamy voice and lyrics captivate with original tunes about romance and the environment".
-- Ashante Infantry, The Toronto Star
"This is a collection of well-arranged, from-the-heart influenced numbers from one of Canada's finest songwriters. What makes this worthy of recommending is Eikhard's blending of styles, which include her own pop sensibilities mixed with a flirtation of jazz."
-- Andrew Matte, The Regina Leader Post
"She possesses a jungle-gym range and the ability to negotiate it, a perfectly controlled vibrato and a sense of dynamics that heightens the audience's awareness of lyrics."
-- Mark Andrews, Vancouver Sun
"A hell of a voice - clear, powerful and expressive".
-- Peter Hum, Ottawa Citizen
"A dark-edged voice that wears a Sarah Vaughan sheen and intonation that hints at Cleo Laine and Carmen McRae".
-- Geoff Chapman, Toronto Star
"Her voice never misses a colour, tone or shade and she is always in command of both the stage and the audience."
-- Dave Mullholland, Ottawa Citizen
"Eikhard both writes and performs with great depth".
-- Patricia Myles, JAZZ TIMES
"Shirley Eikhard has one of the best, deepest, sultry voices around. She's dynamic".
-- Lisa Priest, Ottawa Citizen
"A first-class composer and lyricist."
-- JAZZ REVIEW
"A fine CD (The Last Hurrah, 2000) from an original talent who deserves to be heard".
-- Bob Doull, Calgary Straight
"As close to art as jazz with a touch of pop gets"
-- Stephen Pedersen, Sunday Herald
"Eikhard unleashes her vivid imagination scripting wonderfully eclectic prose to sweeping melodic themes. Easy on the ears and heart."
-- Bill King, THE JAZZ REPORT
"The Last Hurrah illustrates the remarkable songwriting talent that she possesses, as well as her ability to present these songs in the most sympathetic light."
-- Marshall Bowden, JAZZITUDE
"This Cd will give the listener the chance to see inside the moods of a first-class composer and lyricist. (The Last Hurrah CD).
-- John Gilbert, JAZZ REVIEW
"The inspiration, ability and polish Shirley Eikhard brings to songwriting are equal to her performance. She gets deservedly filed next to Ellington in my collection."
-- Roger Viner, PLANET JAZZ