Obviously Mott the
Dog does not know how Angels sound like,
but he would not be disappointed if Angels
sounded like Eva Cassidy. Without doubt,
she is the female vocalist of our time.
It is one of the cruelest tragedies that
Eva Cassidy never lived to enjoy her success.
In fact, with Cassidy's natural shy personality
(yet strong character) that kept her from
rocketing to superstardom in her short
life, she was never sure of her stage
presence. She shunned the spotlight till
it was nearly too late, or preferred to
sing backup vocals or duets as she did
on Chuck Brown's wonderful album 'The
Other Side', released in 1995, which although
is a Brown album, it is the wonderful
voice of Eva Cassidy that grabs your attention.
Eva Cassidy refused to limit herself to
one style, taking on jazz, funk, blues,
rock, pop, and folk, all with that ethereal
voice, turning each song into something
Eva Cassidy released only one solo album
in her lifetime, the wonderful 'Live at
Blues Alley' (1996). It was recorded in
Washington's most famous blues club after
which it was named, and then it only got
a local release.
It was one of the cruelest blows that
by the end of that year the dreaded cancer
had whisked this beautiful girl with the
heavenly voice away from us. Fortunately
for those of us left here on our very
mortal planet, Eva Cassidy left many recordings
behind which are now being released to
great critical and commercial acclaim
internationally. All of Eva Cassidy's
recordings are lovingly managed by the
Eva Cassidy estate. So far we had 'Eva
By Heart' (1998); 'Songbird' (1998); 'Time
After Time' (2000); 'Imagine' (2002);
and ‘American Tune’ (2003).
These albums have sold over three million
copies worldwide and still counting.
It has to be remembered that Eva Cassidy
did not write songs herself, but was able
to take other people’s great skills
and twist them into something even greater.
At the moment (although I admit it does
vary) 'Imagine' is my favorite Eva Cassidy
The album opens with a solo version of
'It Doesn't Matter Anymore' by Paul Anka
(who also wrote 'My Way', made famous
by Frank Sinatra, Sid Vicious, and then
Nigel of the Bastards). This is followed
by a version of Little Willie John's 'Fever',
not done as Peggy Lee did it in 1958,
but as it was originally intended to be,
when written in 1956, with Eva's brother
joining her, adding violin to Eva's scratch
You also get a track that has been salvaged
from the Blues Alley sessions 'You've
Changed', and when you hear this, you
realize how high the quality of music
was on that particular album. Eva Cassidy's
voice sends shivers up and down your spine.
She would surely get a nod of approval
from the person who first recorded this
song, the great Billie Holiday.
Sandy Denny's 'Who Knows Where The Time
Goes' gets redefined here, giving the
song a whole new lease of life. Eva even
gets a little bit country with her true
to the roots version of Patti Page's hit
'Tennessee Waltz’, which in its
days in the 1950’s was one of the
first cross over country/pop hits.
To finish the album is one of those “enough
to make a grown man cry” moments
as Eva Cassidy breaks into an emotional
solo version of 'Danny Boy'. Still, with
all these moments of magic, I think the
stand-out track is the title track, a
tribute to John Lennon in a touching version
of his masterpiece 'Imagine'. Play this
song in any room and in seconds it will
reduce people to silence as they listen
to Eva Cassidy's voice caress the air.
From Mott The Dog via Ella Crew