What Is Real never settles on one style, a few elements guide most of these songs: forceful acoustic guitars, exploratory piano-playing, intuitive tempo changes and, most of all, Shahpari's strong voice. At its best, it evokes Janis Joplin, Joanna Newsom and Nellie McKay -- and even though her upper-octave wanderings don't always hit the mark, her vocal control is exemplary. She can summon the low-end piano exorcisms of early Fiona Apple on a song like "Stale," which mixes jazzy swing, start-stop cabaret melodrama and urgent rock rhythms with a stream-of-consciousness tour of a grand piano's 88 keys. It's neither an artfully sewn together song-suite nor something carelessly strewn together; it's simply a tour de force that shows the singer's strengths in a four-minute tempest.Read the rest here. Shahpari's CD release show is Saturday night, September 12, at Off Broadway. It starts at 8 p.m., and she'll be joined by several musicians, including: Clayton Kunstel (So Many Dynamos), Chris Turnbaugh (Groupthink), Phil Ring (The Gorge), Asako Kuboki (S.L.S.O.) and Ranya Iqbal (Serenade Strings). Beth Bombara and Phil Stendek open the show.
MP3: Sheila Shahpari, "Stale"