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This CD will break your heart and lift your spirits
on September 2, 1998
"Eva By Heart" was released less than a year after Eva Cassidy's death. Other listeners have described Eva's once-in-a-lifetime voice in reviews here (see "Songbird"); I thought people might be interested in hearing a little background to this particular CD, which I learned about from local radio interviews when it was first released in the Washington DC area.
Its production was an remarkable labor of love by her producer, Chris Biondo, and the other musicians involved. You would never know to listen to the album, but some of the songs started out with only Eva's voice on tape, and the accompaniment was added in the studio later. For example, Eva's violinist brother recorded the fiddle parts to "I Know You By Heart" and "How Can I Keep From Singing" when he was home visiting Eva in the hospital. The big band musicians in "Blues in the Night" never met in person; they recorded their various parts in the recording studio at different times. The duet with Chuck Brown, "Need Your Love So Bad," sounds as seductive and responsive as can be, but in fact Chuck added his voice after Eva's death, and it took him months because every time he tried, he started to cry.
If all this sounds terribly phony and depressing, let me assure you that "Eva By Heart" is actually an uplifting experience, showcasing great songwriting and some of the best vocals you'll ever hear. "I Know You By Heart," the opening song, is a valentine for anyone who has ever loved and lost. Some of Eva's best singing is heard in the gospel numbers "Love Heals the Wound It Makes" and "How Can I Keep from Singing," and Eva's arrangement of the traditional Celtic song "Waly Waly" has a haunting beauty that is enhanced by the imaginative accompaniment of Lenny Williams.
The CD comes with an attractive booklet of photos and other artwork, and notes by Grammmy-winning critic Joel E. Siegel.
The collection "Songbird" has received considerable national attention, but this album has much to offer even if you already have some of the songs on the other CD.