Songbird by Eva Cassidy
The album Songbird, by Eva Cassidy, shows a voice of beauty and extraordinary clarity on a wide range of songs. From the title track, a Fleetwood Mac song, through to Wade In The Water (a Negro Spiritual) , Eva took songs and sang them with a purity that astonishes and delights. The fact that she's often thought to have originated songs by people like Chrissie McVie and Sting shows how good she was.
"Took songs" I say, for she died at an early age and her success came posthumously. Songbird was released a year after her death and went viral in US and UK. A radio play of Fields Of Gold caused switchboards to be jammed, three posthumous UK number 1 albums ensued and her (sadly few) albums sell well to this day.
Eva Cassidy didn't do pop but she could sing just about anything. Bill Straw, boss of Blix Street Records, said "technically she was one of the best singers I’d ever heard, To be able to combine that technical skill with her extraordinary emotional range and depth was without precedent."
I have every recording of hers I can get my hands on and I never tire of listening to them. People hearing her music for the first time tend to stop, stand still and listen entranced. She is that good.
Songbird itself is a compilation of songs from three other albums and is a fantastic introduction to Eva Cassidy if you don't already know her music. Tracks include:
Songbird: From Fleetwood Mac's Rumours. It must have taken a lot of nerve to cover a song from one of the bestselling albums of all time - Eva Cassidy delivers one of the great versions, better even that writer Christine McVie's.
Autumn Leaves: Version of an old French song, simply but emotionally sung against a gentle jazz piano.
People Get Ready: The Curtis Mayfield song. Power and purity in a simple delivery.
Fields Of Gold: Sting's song from Ten Summoner's Tales. You may never listen to his original again. Sting himself thought it was wonderful: "this version was just so pure, so excellent, that I was deeply moved by it, and so happy that she covered it. Eva's is one of the best versions of my song I've ever heard."
There are six more tracks on Songbird. I'll leave you to the pleasure of discovering them for yourself.
An amazing live set. Folk, blues, jazz, she sings everything and blows away the audience.
Some Great Video Clips
Songbird, the title track. Compare Eva's version with the next clip by the songwriter Chrissie McVie. Then there's the sumptuous Sting song, Fields Of Gold. Finally, the live Blues Alley set: 45 minutes of delight.
Title track from the Songbird album, as performed by Fleetwood Mac
Just to show Eva's range, a great version of Buddy Holly's song.
And Sting's Fields Of Gold