BWW CD Review: YOU'LL SEE What A Perfect CD Sounds Like With Wendy Scherl
Remember that time your best friend recorded a CD and you were so proud of them? Well, how about that time you turned on a CD by a perfect stranger and, by the time it was finished, you felt like they were your best friend. That's Wendy Scherl's debut album YOU'LL SEE. It doesn't happen every day, but it happened here - Ms. Scherl appears to have hit one out of the park with her maiden voyage into the recording studio. You'll See is, from first to final notes, an absolutely flawless musical excursion, and why not? Wendy Scherl is a singer of exceptional note working with an expert team of artists, starting with Christopher Denny and Barry Kleinbort. Together, Misters Denny and Kleinbort have produced a top-shelf album and created musical arrangements for Ms. Scherl that overflow with quality, professionalism, and artistic abundance. This threesome is a music-producing dream team and the result is a CD so pleasurable that it is actually possible to start it over right after the final notes of the closing number - which this writer did three times. You'll See is more than a CD, it's a statement: I'm Here.
Wendy Scherl has a musicality to her voice that goes beyond just being a singer, and she uses her lovely, pristine voice as a musician uses a musical instrument - there is an actual tactile experience to listening to Scherl's singing, like hearing the wind pass through a flute or an oboe as the musician orchestrates the musical journey. Like the flute or the oboe, the Scherl instrument is laden with emotional expressiveness, delivering a full-bodied musical story in which to immerse oneself, a quality best equated to listening to a Karen Carpenter or Barbra Streisand album. It doesn't hurt that Scherl and co. have chosen a song list that provides ample opportunities for Wendy to put her skills, singing and acting, to full use, meticulously choosing the exact order in which to place the numbers so that the audience will enjoy the full emotional effect of their efforts.
Kicking off the album with the title track, Wendy Scherl promises "You'll See" how much will like her, and she couldn't be more on target - by the end of the opener, the listener will find themselves besotted by the sound of her voice and the warm feeling it inspires, and the ardent admiration only grows as, song by song, Ms. Scherl presents classic music from throughout the years. From Kern & Mercer to Bob Dylan, Scherl weaves a spell that imbues the air around the listener with a sense of joy and security, even when the song is one with underlying tones of sadness, like the William Finn heartbreaker "Anytime" -- in Ms. Scherl's hands, the ballad becomes a matter-of-fact declaration of love and hope, instead of an acknowledgment of impending doom. In the hands of another performer, there is a risk of the number becoming a dirge but Scherl dresses all of her performances on You'll See in optimism, particularly Rusty Magee's "New York Romance," which she, Denny and Kleinbort have arranged in a manner that adds a humor reminiscent of New York film comedies like Arthur, Tootsie, and They All Laughed, a whimsy that is not especially present in Magee's weary, realistic lyrics. It is a boon to the recording that the team had a clear mission to not only veer away from the feel of previous recordings of the more famous songs but to analyze the compositions in a way that presented as most authentic to Ms. Scherl's presence, completely deconstruction and reinventing classics like "I Got the Sun in the Morning" and "Wherever He Ain't" and then choosing to remain completely true to "Whoever You Are, I Love You" and "Anyone Can Whistle" - two of the most satisfying cuts on the album. The biggest surprises on the CD You'll See, though, come in the form of songs so famous that, probably, nobody should sing them, and songs audiences may not know or may have forgotten existed.
It is incredibly daring for a singer, for any singer, to take on "The Way We Were" but to make a medley out of the Oscar-winning tune and a second Barbra Streisand song seems unthinkable; still, Scherl does it and, with Denny's work as musical director, she scores. Two songs later, Scherl and co. present a medley that includes one of Stephen Sondheim's most famous compositions, one of Liza Minnelli's signature songs, and a rousing finale number from a beloved Maltby & Shire revue, and the resulting work is, indeed, a work of art. These medleys should, alone, be reason enough to buy the CD, but this writer found his greatest satisfaction in the rarely-recorded "There Are Two Sides To Everything" from Alice Through The Looking Glass, and "The Kindest Man" from the musical Marty. The former comes from a mostly forgotten TV musical from 1966 and the latter carries a writing credit by Mr. Kleinbort, and together the two songs are a musical representation of the Yin and Yang that appear to be a consummate artist named Wendy Scherl, whose debut CD may be titled "You'll See" but it might have been more aptly called "You'll Hear" because you definitely should hear this absolutely perfect album.
You'll See is a 2019 release on the Harbinger Records label. It is available on Amazon, iTunes, and Spotify.