Grammy nominated vocalist Denise Donatelli shows why she’s earned such praise with Soul Shadows Savant Records, 2012). Her voice is both voice and instrument as she charms and inspires.

Donatelli’s When the Lights Are Low (Savant, 2010) received two Grammy nominations: Best Jazz Vocal Album and Best Arrangement Accompanying a Vocalist. This recording, along with In the Company of Friends (Jazzed Media, 2005) and What Lies Within (Savant, 2008) have consistently topped the National Jazz Week radio charts.

The core group of accompanists are pianist Geoffrey Keezer, guitarist Peter Sprague, bassist Carlitos del Puerto and three percussionists.

“No Better” is that off-the-beaten path jazz vocal that stretches beyond six minutes. Sprague and Keezer provide a beautiful backdrop for Donatelli’s charming voice. Del Puerto and Rodriguez also contribute. Donatelli sings of unrequited love in a way that makes the listener wonder what is wrong with the object of her affection, particularly when she wails, “You don’t want me.” The lyrics are inspired by the remarriage of songwriter J. Brooks’ parents. The song ends with Keezer stretching out while Donatelli provides a wordless chant, at times sound like a flute.

The title song, first recorded by Bill Withers with the Crusaders, is Keezer’s bossa nova interpretation, inspired by a dream. Renowned percussionist Alex Acuna assists, with Yutaka Yokokura providing background vocals and Steve Huffsteter adding muted trumpet in the background. Sprague’s solo is similar to what one might expect from Joao Gilberto.

Vocalist Peter Eldridge performs a duet with Donatelli on “Postcards and Messages.” The instrumental ensemble is complemented by a three-piece string section, Susan Wulff steps in on double bass, and Nicholas Stoup joins Rodriguez on percussion. Eldridge, a member of New York Voices, wrote the piece, arranged here by Keezer. The layers of voice, strings and the strolling rhythm set by piano, bass and percussion give it an orchestral feel.

Donatelli, born on the East Coast of the United States, is based in Los Angeles. She was trained in piano but later turned to singing.