A decade ago, I heard Eva Cassidy for the first time in an unlikely place. I was watching an episode of Smallville on television and as soon as the song came on, I started to ignore whatever was happening on screen. Cassidy was singing her version of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time." Already a fan of the original, this version took it to a whole different level, and thus started my fascination with her music.
That one song was my gateway drug. Since then, I've picked up albums of hers here and there, always hungry for more. Cassidy's album Time After Time still finds its way into my playlist at least once a week. Her versions of "Kathy's Song" (written by Paul Simon and originally performed by Simon & Garfunkel), "At Last" (originally performed by Etta James), and "Woodstock" (originally performed by Joni Mitchell) haunt my mind on a regular basis.
It's tough for me to describe the qualities of her voice in words. She was ethereal at times but always passionate, and has a tenderness and strength that sends chills down my spine every single time. There are few voices that do that to me on a regular basis, and Eva Cassidy's is one of them.
As I began learning more about this singer, I was crushed to discover that she had passed away of melanoma in 1996 at the age of 33. Another life cut far too short. She had so much more to share with the world.
So, when I heard Blix Street Records was releasing an album of 12 acoustic Cassidy tracks, I knew I had to give it a listen. The album, called Simply Eva, goes back to the core of what she relied on: her voice and her guitar. And as always, I was not disappointed. How could I be?
There are some songs I'd heard before with broader arrangements, such as (Curtis Mayfield's) "People Get Ready," which appeared on Live at Blues Alley. And both "Kathy's Song" and "Time After Time" appeared on her album Time After Time. But these are stripped down versions that really showcase her guitar skills as well as her amazing voice.