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Songbird

Eva Cassidy

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Album Review

Though many recording artists meld and straddle a variety of genres, few if any defy categorization by excelling in so many disparate styles as the late Eva Cassidy. The diverse offerings from the evocative thrush from Washington, D.C. — who died tragically of melanoma in 1996 at age 33 — run the gamut from the radio-friendly pop cover of Sting's "Fields of Gold" to a jazz chanteuse rendition of the standard "Autumn Leaves" to the soulful R&B of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready" to her spine-tingling gospel delivery of "Oh, Had I a Golden Thread." Cassidy's mastery of each is perhaps best evidenced by the fact that the Washington Area Music Association honored her (in 1996) as Best Female Vocalist in four separate categories: blues, contemporary jazz, traditional jazz, and roots rock/traditional R&B, in addition to naming her Artist of the Year, and her then-current release, Live at Blues Alley, Album of the Year. Songbird is a posthumous anthology culled from that album and her other solo release, Eva by Heart, along with one track from her 1992 duet album with Chuck Brown titled The Other Side. Though the production value on several songs falls well short of state of the art, the shimmering beauty of her crystal-clear voice, combined with her seemingly limitless range and imaginative phrasing, cuts through to both heart and soul. Whether she beckons a soothing timbre for seductively restrained passages or shakes the rafters by unleashing her formidable power and gorgeous falsetto, Cassidy's warblings always fuse her purity of tone with a purity of emotion and a palpable connection with the lyric. Though the songs described above are luscious, the coup de maître is the album's finale — surely one of the great recordings in popular music of the time — Cassidy's stunning version of "Over the Rainbow." Recorded with only her own accompaniment on acoustic guitar, keyboards, and synthesizer, Cassidy's voice swoops and soars over a musical panorama — though with a wistful, melancholic shading that almost seems to betray a premonition of her own demise, despite the fact that it would be nearly four years before she would be diagnosed with her terminal illness. Cassidy more than rearranges the Judy Garland classic — she reinvents it. The song is immediately familiar, yet the beautiful colors that arc the sky are very much hers. In an eerie coincidence, if one inverts the two words contained in the album's title, Songbird (which was taken from her straightforward rendition of the Fleetwood Mac cut), the result is "Bird Song." The irony is that "Bird Song" is the title of the Grateful Dead's ode to another phenomenal woman singer whose melodious flight was tragically cut short: Janis Joplin. One could argue that its lyrics and sentiment are equally apropos of Eva Cassidy.

Customer Reviews

The most beautiful song!

Songbird is the most beautiful song - what a truly amazing voice Eva had.

In short, this is a 'Must Have' album

If her version of Sting's Fields of Gold is not best cover of all time, then surely it must be Eva's passionate and elegant interpretation of Christine's McVie's Songbird. This album is perhaps the finest collection of Eva's work, as it encompasses many of her different genre's, pop, folk, jazz and blues. The hauntingly beautiful vocals on Over The Rainbow just bring a tear to the eye. Anyone who loves music, should include this album on their iPod.

You will never get tired of listening to such a beautiful voice.

This is a great compilation of Eva Cassidy - some taken from live recordings, some from the studio. You will never get sick of listening to this album, a lot of the songs will move you to tears. Evas cover of Stings "Fields of Gold" is absolutely stunning as is her "Songbird" cover. She sings with heart and soul and it is just such a pity she was lost to the world too soon.

Biography

Born: 02 February 1963 in Oxon Hill, MD

Genre: Pop

Years Active: '80s, '90s

The heart-tugging story of Eva Cassidy reads almost like the plot of a "Movie of the Week" tearjerker. A native of the Washington, D.C., area, the painfully shy Cassidy earned a local reputation as a masterful interpreter of standards from virtually any genre, blessed with technical agility and a searching passion that cut straight to the emotional core of her material. Despite the evocative instrument that was Cassidy's voice, record companies shied away from her, unsure of how to market her eclectic...
Full Bio
Songbird, Eva Cassidy
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