The distinctive vocal qualities of jazz vocalist Joel Sheridan keep the listener attentive to his unique sound in his appropriately titled debut release, Spellbound. His decade-long, varied artistic career (with stints in Stratford and other musical theatres billed as Joel Hartt), a 12-year, career-counsellor gig, and his 2006 return to music have undoubtedly influenced his honest take on jazz singing. His goal was a storytelling concept album about the many sides of love, yet his controlled emotional performances of 12 covers and three of his own compositions are never over the top. All are performed with class and style by Sheridan, and his band – Mark Kieswetter (piano), Maxwell Roach (drums), and Jordan O’Connor (bass) with Reg Schwager (guitar) on five tracks.
Fanny Brice’s vaudevillian Cooking Breakfast for the One I Love is given a novelty upbeat rendition. The Kay Ballard tune, Lazy Afternoon, features a slow atmospheric moment with mood-setting bass opening, piano chords, cymbal splashes and high vocal pitches. More clear vocal storytelling and piano backdrop are evident in Nat King Cole’s breakup tune, I Keep Going Back to Joe’s. Highlight is Sheridan’s You Were My First Love, a personal song of his two great loves, with a stellar piano, melodic lines, climactic dynamic buildup and quietly touching close. The danceable Antônio Carlos Jobim song No More Blues ends the disc with hope and happiness, like all great love stories. And all great releases like Spellbound!