Is it karma that a former Jackson Browne backup singer supplies the music for a series about lawyers in love? In fact, there’s probably never been a better matchup of singer and TV character than the teaming of Vonda Shepard and Ally McBeal. Case in point: Songs From Ally McBeal, which includes Shepard originals and covers she sings in her role as the series’ bar crooner. Shepard songs like ”Someone You Use” and ”Neighborhood” correspond with Ally’s feelings about working with her ex, and the lovelorn sentiments in oldies like ”I Only Want to Be With You” and ”You Belong to Me” match Ally’s conflicted responses to the men in (or not in) her life.
As Ally’s inner musical voice, Shepard is, for better and worse, perfect: Her music isn’t completely wimpy, but neither does it burst forth with vigor and self-confidence. Except for the modestly rousing, bleached-roots rock of ”Searchin’ My Soul,” Shepard’s mellow-L.A. rock feels dated (”The Wildest Times of the World” may be the least wild song ever about elation over a long-delayed romance). Meanwhile, her anemic remakes of gut rippers like ”Walk Away Renee” and ”The End of the World” reduce heart-wrenching emotion to bloodless banalities. Songs From Ally McBeal is the musical equivalent of a hung jury. C