Album Reviews

Eva Cassidy

Nightbird

Artist:     Eva Cassidy

Album:     Nightbird

Label:     Blix Street

Release Date:     12/11/2015

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Eva Cassidy’s Nightbird is 2 CD live album recorded in 1996 at the Blues Alley jazz club. The recordings have been remastered to such a crispness that it sounds as if Cassidy had just left the venue the previous evening. Nightbird undeniably showcases Cassidy’s complexity and versatility as a singer and performer. Accompanied by a jazz quartet, she maneuvers us through her signature soulful ballads, folk tunes, blues and jazz songs.

One aspect of Cassidy’s vocal style which always gives me shivers is her ability to seamlessly soar between her head voice and her falsetto, utilizing her entire vocal palette to paint her performances. Having never been able to attend one of her shows, what strongly connects me to her performances are the articulation of her phrases – especially those of heartbreak- and the imperfections of her live performances. These together form her characteristically honest and unpretentious expression. “Fields Of Gold” and “Nightbird” are star examples of this expression, with special mention to “Waly Waly,” where the instrumentation is stripped down to just a piano accompaniment.

The 33 song setlist takes the audience through an easy, gentle and uplifting emotional arc, beginning with folk ballads and blues then moving onto uptempo jazz numbers, including “It Don’t Mean A Thing.” Cassidy ushers the audience into “a more jumpy” segment of the show after performing her classic, “Over The Rainbow,” where her whispered, sustained long notes effortlessly spin out her yearning, hopeful, and heartbreaking expression.

Nightbird, being sonically generous, gives us the opportunity to glimpse the intimacy of Cassidy’s live performances, and may be the closest thing we will ever have to experiencing her unparalleled soulfulness on repeat.

– Jason Kwan

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