Album: Eva Cassidy

Imagine, Hot
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The Independent Culture

The unstaged sleeve photo – more holiday snap than posed cover shot – illustrates one of the problems of posthumous success: it's too late to effect any kind of stylish makeover, and one has to draw instead upon a hoard of personal photos probably not intended for publication. That it seems to fit Eva Cassidy speaks volumes for the honest, unalloyed nature of her performances here, which, like the earlier collections Time After Time and her 1998 breakthrough Songbird, are drawn from disparate sources reflecting her abilities in folk, blues and jazz – a diversity that stopped her securing a major-label contract in her lifetime, but has clearly proven acceptable to a public unconcerned with industry niches. Cushioned in small-combo arrangements, the jazzier material, such as "Fever" and "You've Changed", is tackled with an easy, expressive facility that directs the former, for instance, closer to Little Willie John's original than Peggy Lee. But it's the folksier performances, such as Sandy Denny's "Who Knows Where the Time Goes?", and her soulful solo treatment of standards such as "Imagine" and "It Doesn't Matter Any More" that reveal Cassidy's natural warmth: her gentle blues inflections on the latter bestow a pained resignation, while her impassioned simplicity even de-saccharinises "Tennessee Waltz". The only wrong note is Stevie Wonder's "It Can Only Be Me", whose soul-diva stylings are like Kryptonite to Cassidy's essential sincerity.