This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 1/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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"It's the voice, stupid." Using a variation of lexicon from the 1990s political scene, this amended catch phrase sums up the late Eva Cassidy as her rich, wide-ranging vocals put an indelible stamp on the songs she sings. Cassidy, who died of melanoma in 1996, can be stirring or soothing, sultry or spiritual, and displays all those qualities on this release.
A splendid stylist and interpreter, her emotionally-touching version of Sting's "Fields of Gold," immediately showcases her attention-grabbing vocals. With Keith Grimes backing on electric guitar, and Eva accompanying herself on acoustic guitar, she provides a soulful and inviting rendition that surpasses the original.
Her "Wade in the Water," is a smouldering, almost-salacious number, aided in its sensualness by Chris Walker on trumpet and Kent Wood on organ. Continuing her run on traditional spirituals, the juiced-up and jazzy "Wayfaring Stranger" is an innovative rendition unlike any heard before.
Pete Seeger's "Oh, I Had A Golden Thread" interweaves Hilton Felton's organ riffs around Cassidy's vocals. This gospel/rhythm-and-blues-fused piece transports the listener smack into the middle of a southern black Baptist church service on a sweltering Sunday.
Cassidy's take on "Over The Rainbow" is a more reflective, mature cut than the sweet offering in "The Wizard of Oz."
Her arrangements and beguiling vocals are mesmerizing. Equally at home with a myriad of singing styles and blessed with the uncanny ability to make herself at home in each, she performs gospel and soul with as much adeptness as jazz and folk. The inability to pigeonhole her, and thus market her talents, contributed to her anonymity. Truly an underappreciated talent who will be missed, this is an opportunity to hear her at her best.
"Songbird" is comprised of selections from Cassidy's three previous albums, "Eva By Heart," "Live At Blues Alley," and "The Other Side."
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