Water in My Hand
Shelly Rudolph is a maker of soul music, as a fine and sultry singer and songwriter with a sense of adventure and a desire for emotional truth. That much is plainly true. But, while soul music guides her, the stylistic plot keeps thickening, as she demonstrates on her ambitious new album, Water In My Hand. R&B, in it's many guises, may be the foundation of Rudolph's new project, but she also takes her voice into areas where you can't deny the touch of hypnotic gospel, African concepts, New Orleans barbecue sauce, tango, jazz phrasing, and visitations from her recurring Caribbean muse. The album's diversity of tracks and styles, and rhythmic landscapes from different global corners, makes for a diverse creative journey. But it's also one with a clear and coherent musical identity. Call her a 'world soul' artist. Rudolph's naturally curious musical tendencies put her in the heart of a time when musical hybrids come easily, and sticking to a purist attitude can limit artistic potential. An experienced vocalist, in jazz, pop, and soul, Rudolph is all about exploring new levels of potential. If an Oregonian at heart, she has lived and performed in New York City, Los Angeles (where she recorded her debut album project), and has traveled to and performed in the Caribbean, the free spirit and swaying musical vibe of which is one of the stronger impulses in her musical concept. After building up a body of original material, she headed up to 'The Tompound,' an idyllic studio in the Santa Barbara hills. There, in the laboratory with a view, Rudolph spent months honing the material and a direction, with drummer/engineer Tom Lackner, guitarist Joe Woodard, and numerous guest musicians. The resulting album moves with ease and pleasant surprises from track to track, from the catchy new-old school R&B of 'Ripen Me' to the warm, percolating African design of 'Amma' and the dark sensuality of 'Miles Away.' With her new body of work and multi-directional sound, Rudolph is poised to take her place among the movement of creative voices in the loose genre of New Soul. She abides by the importance of soulful expression, in whatever global garb suits the moment.