Music Review: Eva Cassidy, "Simply Eva"
Release Date: January 25, 2011
Label: Blix Street
by R.J. Carter
Published: February 23, 2011
It's a truism of art that some of the greatest in their field are never fully recognized until after their deaths. Such it is with Eva Cassidy, a singer whose talents touched and influenced numerous performers who went on to find some commercial success bouyed on the notes of Cassidy's music.
Simply Eva is the latest posthumous release of Cassidy recordings, each one being just as the title suggests -- simply Eva Cassidy and a lone acoustic guitar, performing in different venues and studios. As it should be, Simply Eva opens with "Songbird," a Fleetwood Mac tune that has become Cassidy's signature song. The performance here is only the beginning of an exhibition of Cassidy's crystalline vocal qualities, as she makes angelically smooth transitions between notes and octaves without the scarcest hesitation or fluctuation.
I've said to others that listening to Simply Eva is a spiritual experience. Perhaps some of that owes to the fact that the album contains a number of traditional spiritual songs, such as "Wayfaring Stranger" and "Wade in the Water," as well as Curtis Mayfield's freedom movement anthem, "People Get Ready."
The album also includes a performance of Jesse Fuller's "San Francisco Bay Blues." This song is a bit of a departure, stylistically, from the others on the track listing, but it's definitely the kind of thing Cassidy did that inspired singers like Katie Melua. Other classic standards include Sandy Denny's "Who Knows Where the Time Goes" and Paul Simon's "Kathy's Song," where Cassidy's guitar chops get to shine, often being overshadowed by the allure of her voice.
Cassidy took ownership of a song when she performed it. "Over the Rainbow" is rearranged, remolded and recast into a somber and introspective -- even haunting -- rendition. With Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors" and "Time After Time," Cassidy's interpretations are along the lines of what Tori Amos did with "Strange Little Girls," making the songs new again and forcing the listener to rethink the themes and meanings.
|Eva Cassidy - Simply Eva
- Wayfaring Stranger
- People Get Ready
- True Colors
- Who Knows Where the Time Goes
- Over the Rainbow
- Kathy's Song
- San Francisco Bay Blues
- Wade in the Water
- Time After Time
- Autumn Leaves
- I Know You By Heart
An a capella rendition of "I Know You By Heart" serves as a heart-grabbing (and heart-stopping) punctuation to the set. It's just barely under a minute long, but seems so much longer when you realize you've forgotten to breathe since the first note.