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Music Review: Jill Schoelen – Kelly’s Smile

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While mostly recognized for her acting talents, Jill Schoelen (best known for her performances in Phantom of the Opera (1989), That Was Then,This Is Now (1986), Cutting Class (1989), and the original version of the 1987 horror film, The Stepfather) is exploring her other talents and has put out a stellar debut CD, Kelly’s Smile.

Singing is not such a far stretch for Schoelen, as music has always been a passion of hers. Her voice is strong, yet not overstated. Schoelen’s style reminds one of Norah Jones, but whereas Jones can lull you off, Schoelen’s upbeat delivery keeps the pace of Kelly’s Smile vigorous.

The CD is a profile of Sholean’s close friendship with Kelly Troup, the daughter of composer/actor Bobby Troup and actress Julie London. It was through their friendship with the Troup family that Schoelen learned her love for jazz. And when Kelly Troup passed away in 2002, it was the inspiration for this CD.

Nine of the CD’s twelve tracks were penned by Bobby Troup, starting off with his most famous composition, "Route 66." (covered by everyone from The Rolling Stones, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Bob Dylan, to to a drastically distorted version by Johnny Rotten who shouted it for a Mountain Dew commercial in 1996). Schoelen’s take is breathy and atmospheric with an allure that Nina Simone would have been proud of. "Girls Talk" is another charmer, as is her cover of Bread’s "If."

Schoelen went to the top in arranging her accompaniment as Larry Koonse guitar is smooth and tasteful and is the perfect complement to Schoelen’s vocals, as is the outstanding bass of the legendary Dave Carpenter (who sadly passed away last year).

Kelly’s Smile is truly one of the best debut CDs to come out in some time.

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