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TOP 100 REVIEWERon January 27, 2011
Singer Eva Cassidy had a #1 album on the British record charts and has gone multi-platinum in the US but she never got to see her own success. The chart-topping album occurred in 2001 and was actually a 1998 release on Washington State- based Blix Records. But Cassidy had already left her physical being, having died in 1996 at the tender age of 33, from melanoma. The recordings that took the world by storm were recorded as early as 1991. The seven albums or compilations released by Blix Street are still huge sellers.

Now comes "new" music from the beautiful voice of Cassidy with this album of "stripped down" acoustic guitar and vocal performances recorded "live" in the studio and at two Washington DC nightclubs. And it's a captivating album. The lead off track is Christine McVie's composition "Songbird", the first song that most Cassidy fans heard. But that session was from 1991 and here we are five years later with no overdubs or supporting musicians. Another Cassidy "standard" is "Over The Rainbow" but it's a different version this time. Cassidy performed "cover songs" in her own way. There are two Cyndi Lauper-related songs here: "True Colors" and "Time After Time". I'm pretty sure Lauper would very much approve of these versions. Old traditional folk songs don't seem out of place either. "Wayfaring Stranger" and "Wade in the Water" fit right in! And, trust me, Cassidy's version of Jesse Fuller's "San Francisco Bay Blues" is 180 degrees from the original. The sessions recorded at Blues Alley and another D.C. area club, Pearl's", sound only slightly different from those recorded "live" in by producer Chris Biondo in his Maryland studio. There is no audience noise and these may have been recorded before or after shows at these clubs.

Blix Street owner Bill Straw licensed these previously unreleased recordings from Cassidy's parents to create this release. Cassidy fans will thank them for giving them "new" music and "new versions" of some previous songs to carry on her memory.

Steve Ramm
"Anything Phonographic"
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on January 25, 2011
I'm thrilled this has been released. Here is the Eva Cassidy cherished and loved by those who knew her in life. This is how her music sounded at family gatherings and when Eva hung out with friends. Just Eva: with at most, her guitar. Eva needed nothing else. Eva will sing her way into your heart and a piece of it will forever be: simply Eva.
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on January 25, 2011
This was a great album. I could listen to this one over and over. Just having her guitar playing allowed her voice to really be the focal point. While I have heard most of these songs from here before, They were new and fresh to listen to. Loved over the rainbow.
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on September 16, 2011
My LifeThis won't be a long review because losing Eva still breaks my heart.
We're very lucky to live in an area that encourages musicians and singers. The Washington, DC area is not considered to be a center of the music industry but there is quite a bit of work for our area musicians. Since the chances of hitting the big time are almost nonexistent, most of the musicians here either grew up here of moved to this area because they like to work every day, and because they work every day, they're great musicians. That sets up a very supportive, noncompetitive atmosphere and the musicians here embrace that atmosphere. That's why Grace Griffith sent Eva's tapes to Blix Street Records.
Grace was working on her first record for Blix Street and we were all very excited with and for her. Grace came into the studio one day and asked if I thought she should send Eva's tapes to Blix St. I told her I thought she should wait a couple of months to make sure her record went smoothly and to be sure Bill Straw who runs the company would be good to work with since Eva's parents were still grieving and I wanted to be sure that we couldn't possibly add to that grief in any way.
Well, she sent them anyway, which is really just what she should have done. Bill Straw and Blix Street did everything right. When Eva's music started to spread, they manufactured enough, they followed the flow of interest and stepped up to dedicate their lives to making Eva's music available. People around the world fell in love with Eva and her music just like we love her here. (Yes, we do and did love Eva here but the people who write books don't talk to us.)
The first time I heard Eva's music coming out of a store front I was on tour in New Zealand, just walking down the street. I was so overwhelmed I sat down on the street and cried. (Ah, sorry Christchurch. Ha.)
Eva's music makes the world a better place. Musicians here are still finding rehearsal tapes and donating them to the cause. Chris Biondo, Eva's producer and long time friend is still working to make sure every note Eva sang can be heard in it's best possible light.
That's why you need to buy this record.
And that also brings us back to Grace Griffith. Grace took a back seat to Eva for quite a while and she was happy to but while we were finishing her record we found out that Grace had Parkinson's. I don't have to tell you how tough that is.
The BBC 2 is now starting to play Grace's music. It's too early to know what will happen for Grace. All I can say is I hope you buy and carefully listen to Eva and then add the music of Grace Griffith to your ears and heart. After all, Grace was Eva's favorite singer.

Thank you to all of the people who love Eva's music. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Marcy Marxer
(working class musician, played on Eva's music, producer for Grace Griffith, friend of Chris Biondo, 14 Grammy nominations in several categories, 2 Grammy wins for production and children's music...and you've probably never heard my name. Ha. OK, back to work. Love DC.)
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on May 22, 2012
I first stumbled across Eva Cassidy on a compilation of guitar songs for rainy days, singing "Autumn Leaves." A serviceable old standard to be sure, but I've heard it probably a hundred times by our most acclaimed singers, and wasn't enthused about hearing yet another version. But after listening I realized two things: that I'd never really heard Autumn Leaves before, or more accurately, I had never *felt* it, and that I had to know more about this singer who was able to bring so much new depth out of a familiar song. Why hadn't I heard of her before? Listening to others of her songs showed this effect was no fluke. Eva has a way of forcing us to slow down and feel, perhaps for the first time, what the songwriter was trying to tell us. 'Look what I found under this old leaf,' she seems to say, swaying her unerring metal detector from side to side and holding up the nugget you missed before.

And this was no accident. She reportedly chose her songs based on the effect the lyrics had on her, which gave her a somewhat eclectic but highly distilled repertoire. Some have said that Eva was unaware of her talent, but I am now convinced this was not the case, but rather she chose in her humility to subjugate herself in service to the message of the song, and its connecting power to the collective unconscious of our human condition. She bridges the synapse between songwriter and listener better than any other singer I have ever heard.

People speak upon first hearing Eva of being stopped in their tracks, waiters halted emerging from swinging kitchen doors holding plates of cooling food, of being unexpectedly and irresistibly moved to tears. At this Eva Cassidy has no peers. From what deep well of sadness she drew I can only imagine, but her airy incantations speak of what it means to be alive, to be human in a world not optimized for the care and feeding of sentient beings. You'll soon find out which of her songs do it for you. It is best, however, to take them sparingly, like a penicillin reserved for emergencies, to save your life, lest you become desensitized to the effect.

You'll know when: when life has taken all you have to give, and then it takes more; when you've lost someone you can't live without, but have to go on living anyway; when nothing can get into that hardened lump of coal that used to be your heart... Put on Eva, and turn out the lights, so it's just you, and a red dot glowing on the stereo, alone in the dark with your pain: take two sad songs, have a good cry, and call me in the morning.
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on July 28, 2011
"Simply Eva" is the best look fans have at Eva Cassidy's past and quite possibly her never-to-be future. The ninth album on Blix Street Records is an all acoustic "bare bones" look at one of the rarest of musical talents. Fans heartbroken over never hearing Eva Cassidy in concert will find this is as close as possible to experiencing a live solo song set. That's the promise behind "Simply Eva," and one that the album satisfies in abundance with the pure musical quality that Eva is known for.

"Songbird," the Christine McVie cover, opens "Simply Eva." Stripped of her trademark multipart harmonies, this sound reveals the basis for her charted (#54 UK) hit. This arrangement yields singing that is a shade more intimate.

A folk based version of "Wayfaring Stranger," complete with Eva's own picking style, is a highlight of "Simply Eva." Sung with complete confidence, had this been the original release one might never have guessed that her musical insight would extend to the jazz (Wes Montgomery) based arrangement found on other albums. It is pared down, yet still very elegant and is testimony to her musical "dead aim" when applied to delivering a folk ballad. The last verse, "I am only going over Jordan,(softly) I'm only going over home" is sung as if she is telling her audience that she accepts the fate of a final journey.

A folk tempered treatment is applied to the gospel based Curtis Mayfield classic, "People Get Ready." Especially for a solo setting, this is a more fitting approach. Eva's strumming, like her singing, has a wonderful dynamic range disclosing yet another original arrangement of an otherwise familiar song.

The centerpiece of the album is a live version of Eva's hallmark arrangement of "Over The Rainbow." Taken alone, this recording is all the justification needed to purchase the album. In actual performances Eva asked the audience for quiet, suggesting they would be responsible for any slips. Here is Eva at her most vulnerable. Any mistake will be exposed, yet in this recording she is nearly flawless. For Eva, it truly sounds as easy as wishing upon a star.

Inclusion of Paul Simon's ode to a far away love, "Kathy's Song", will be applauded by die-hard Eva fans for a more complete lyric, shortened in an earlier release. This version will be viewed by many as being meaningful to Eva personally, particularly with the verse which includes, "I don't know why I spend my time writing songs I can't believe." This echoes Eva's legendary insistence on musical integrity to her point of view; songs had to be ones she identified with.

Nothing less than a total musical make-over is applied to the blues standard, "San Francisco Bay Blues." Cassidy's diverse musical pallet could always produce the unexpected and here is proof. Blix Street President Bill Straw explains, "she cuts the normally frenetic tempo by half and delivers the blues within the lyric with passion and melancholy. Her own unique acoustic rhythm stylings slip around extended major and minor chords with the agility of Atlanta Braves switch hitter Chipper Jones."

Of the remaining full length songs, "Wade In The Water" and "Autumn Leaves" deserve the most attention. For people who not only listen but nearly inhale Eva's work, taking notice of the new arrangement of "Wade In The Water" is like examining a precious gem, one which always sparkled in wonderous color but only from one side. This recording shows what the song was like before she started to polish it and together with the later version offers a glimpse at her musical thought process from start to finish. The song, "Autumn Leaves," is also a Cassidy triumph and deserves this bare solo musical snapshot.

The best is left for last, a short clip sung a capella of the song "I know You by Heart". It is appropriate for an album which spotlights Eva's solo talent to end with just the beautiful sound of her voice. This is pure "Eva magic".

An irony of "Simply Eva" is that as much as it is a look at her talent in the past, it is also a glimpse into her known plans at the end of her life to sing folk music - at least for a period of time. Listen to this album and you'll know that the path she intended to pursue would have continued to yield a musical insight that few musical artists will ever match.

A final side note about the quality of the recorded sound. The album cover was recently photographed atop the latest audiophile equipment at a major electronics show. Eva's recordings have long been used to represent the highest standard in female Americana vocals. The quality of her voice on this recording will continue that tradition. Her voice and guitar sound crystal clear and are worthy test instruments for the most expensive sound equipment.
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on August 21, 2012
I've worked in the music industry for 30 years, made my living songwriting, even got a Grammy nomination. I only say that to clarify my frame of reference. I have worked with musical legends and some of the most talented people of my late 70's Baby Boomer generation. Many of them are still going strong and it's not by accident. They have natural talent and they work hard. - but with all due respect - not one of them can make you feel a song like Eva. She can make you feel and understand a song better than the person who wrote it. Even singer/songwriters bow down to Eva.
Sometimes I read Eva's CD song lists and and think "OK, This song has been covered by everyone under the planet. What can she possibly do differently?" Then I listen, slap my forehead and say "Oh my Lord." She never lets me down. Eva doesn't use tricks or do vocal gymnastics. She tells the truth (a rare thing) and honesty never gets old. You feel every word.
There are only a few, rare actors that can make you feel something with just a look. Eva does it with just the tone of her voice.
My bungling, inadequate review is because words are inadequate to explain something that is not tangible. I can't describe the taste of a ripe peach. You just gotta taste it for yourself. This is why I hate people using the word "genius" to describe anyone with talent. There's a word for them. It's "talented". Genius should be saved for someone so unique, there is no one else in the group with them. Genius is in a class alone - and so is Eva.
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on January 25, 2011
"Simply Eva" is a great recording of Eva Cassidy's vocalizations & guitar stylings. Her arrangements continue to bring new insights to old favorites as well as some contemporary songs. A great artist proven too late. I am very pleased.
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on April 2, 2011
Simply Eva is quite simply the best Eva Cassidy CD ever. I recommend it very highly and it is a particularly good release for any one not familiar with her work.

While all but one of the songs have appeared on other discs, these are new and sometimes very different arrangements. While I think of Cassidy as primarily a folk singer, she has performed songs in a wide variety of styles. What I love about this disc is that it is all solo guitar/vocal perfomances. It gives the material a stylistic unity that enhances its charm. Most of these songs are wonderful and the performances are outstanding. Ironically the one arrangement that I really don't care for is San Francisco Bay Blues which is the only song that is not any of the other CDs.

The disc opens with Christine McVie's Songbird. This is a gorgeous performance of a gorgeous song. There is a wonderful version of Curtis Mayfield's People Get Ready. The covers of Cyndi Lauper's True Colors and Time After Time are excellent. Sandy Denny's Who Knows Where the Time Goes is brilliant and I love Cassidy's version. Over the Rainbow is one of my all time favorite songs and I love Cassidy's arrangement. Her version of Paul Simon's Kathy's Song is yet another beautiful cover of a very pretty song.

I give this one my highest recommendation. Music does not get any more satisfying than this.
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on January 28, 2011
Eva ia an artist unlike any I've ever heard.. The beauty, simplicity and emotion of her voice simply permeates your soul. And here, on this new cd, it is just Eva and her guitar. Though her other cd's are great as well, the acoustic guitar and her voice join forces to create a powerful, moving melody. Admittedly, I am biased; I think Eva is one of the greatest vocalists ever. Enjoy.
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