Reviews/Kudos: éclectique

About  éclectique...

From the newsletter of the French Institute of Arizona by Michel Sarda, publisher and author:

"Our friend Don Sheppard has released a remarkable CD mostly dedicated to French songs, in which he astutely combines English and French. Besides such timeless classics as La Mer (Beyond the Sea) or Les Feuilles Mortes (Autumn Leaves), where he switches languages in such a smooth way you hardly notice -- Don ventures with ease, charm and authority into less familiar territory, with Yves Duteil, Gilbert Becaud or Charles Aznavour. If you love French songs and enjoy understanding the lyrics, this CD is for you."

Molly V. Stockton, classical music radio announcer:  

"I'm sitting back with my eyes closed in my favourite Paris bar -- a nice neighbourhood place where a woman doesn't lose her respectability by sitting there alone with a glass of wine. My eyes are closed because suddenly there's a young man, accompanied by a few musicians who are complementary rather than intrusive, standing beside my table singing only to me. I'm too embarrassed to open my eyes; I just listen to that sensuous voice beguiling me with songs heretofore sung by Charles Trenet, Edith Piaf, and Charles Aznavour. He switches from French to English (maybe the bar's patronne told him I'm English) and back to French, with ease. Songs I know, songs I haven't heard before, songs that take on a new meaning. Aznavour would love this young man's treatment of "She" (Tous Les Visages de l'Amour); did I really hear the throbbing of Ravel's Bolero under the main theme? And this Piaf devotee couldn't fault what he did with La Vie en Rose and my very favourite, L'Hymne à l'Amour. He stayed by my table singing song after song, just for me. Suddenly he's gone. No more songs, no more musicians, no glass of wine, no bar. I open my eyes. Where am I? My living room! I've been listening to Don Sheppard's CD "éclectique." I, who profess to like only Mozart, Beethoven, and Schubert (oh, and yes, Edith Piaf) have been transported to Paris by a gentleman from Tucson.  

Well done, Don! When is your next CD coming out?"

Dr. Audrey Tarchine, interpreter/translator and former professor of French, University of Vermont:

"A musical journey with international appeal -- "éclectique" is a masterful bilingual presentation evoking the icons of the French chanson. Don Sheppard adeptly takes us through a beautifully arranged and orchestrated CD. The language is crisp and authentic; the music is classic; and the interpretations are inspired. Every detail is perfection. Don has charmed Francophile devotées and Alliance Française members on many occasions and "éclectique" will delight his listeners."

Matt N
, pop music historian and columnist for "SoundJudgment" :

"The first thought as you pop Don Sheppard's "éclectique" CD into your player is that you're going to be hearing some familiar tunes with some possibly unfamiliar lyrics. The cover of the CD says that it is of songs in French and English. Don's website suggests the image of an intimate, candle-lit, cabaret style bistro. But what really awaits the listener brave enough to leave the comfortable confines of the familiar English idiom (or French idiom for that matter)?

What awaits is a wonderful collection of tunes old and new sung with seamless transitions between two languages. Among the many impressive aspects of this album is the song selection. Standards, jazz, folk, contemporary and traditional songs share the stage. It's really hard to pick favorites here because all the songs are so well arranged and performed and work so well as an entire album. The medley of "If I Loved You" and "I Have Dreamed" (from "Oklahoma" and "The King and I" respectively) is just fantastic. Sparsely, almost hauntingly, arranged with synthesizer and cello, Don performs these songs in a manner that would make its authors proud. Don comments in his liner notes that he wishes he could have had some French lyrics to sprinkle in here. No need, Don. Didn't even notice until you mentioned it. That's how well the English and French are used here. Nothing overbearing. "Autumn Leaves", "She", and "Let It Be Me" are all given wonderful renditions from someone well versed, comfortable, and respectful of their backgrounds in both countries.
Credit is also due to Khris Dodge who was the musical arranger on this album. The arrangements are a perfect complement to Don's vocals.
One of the more interesting stories within the story is that of the song "Love Slave" (Slav). The original French song is about the passions of a Slavic freedom fighter. Don penned English lyrics, which are about passions of one in love. The translation of the original French lyrics goes "You, in the volcanic cleansing, you see running tears of lava, the blood of the brave ones, and I remember when I was a Slav" becomes "You are the one I idolize, the one I need to satisfy me, deny me and I would just as soon lie down and die". Passion is passion. Don's adaptation so impressed the song's French authors that it is the sanctioned English-language version. 
Without listing and commenting on each of the 14 tracks, I'll just recommend that you get a copy of this excellent CD for yourself and take a virtual trip to a candle-lit, cabaret style bistro and immerse yourself in nearly 50 minutes of well selected, arranged, performed and produced music. Don and Khris have put together a top-notch body of work that demonstrates a love and respect for the music performed.  

This CD is a unique musical experience and is worth many listenings."

Vive la Nostalgie      P.O. Box 86831       Tucson, AZ      85745