Billie Holiday is another Jazz legend that gets her share of tribute albums (José James, Carmen McRae, even Tony Bennett, just to name a few).
I have to admit something here, as much as I admire Billie, I don’t listen to her very often, as her early albums where her voice was still fully developed are usually poorly recorded, and the late albums that have a decent sound quality show her beyond her peak.
Cassandra Wilson has always been a Jazz singer that was never afraid of getting close to pop music; actually, I’m not a universal fan of her because of that.
In any case, her last album, Another Country, I really liked (with the exception of the awkward O Sole Mio), so I was really looking forward to her new 2015 release.
Coming Forth By Day
Coming Forth by Day is, as mentioned above, a tribute album to Billie Holiday, and it was released very timely on Lady Day‘s 100th birthday.
The tracks include well-known standards like Don’t Explain, Strange Fruit, and You Go To My Head. However, you’ll be surprised when you hear them here how different they sound.
The key difference is the production. Nick Launey, better known for working with Nick Cave, is responsible for the arrangements. T-Bone Burnett, who ruined (to my ears) the Diana Krall album Glad Rag Doll, is limited to playing the guitar, so he doesn’t do too much damage.
In summary, you get Bille Holiday Meets Nick Cave, with Wilson’s absolutely unmistakable voice. Is it worth getting? Not across the board, but some tracks are good enough to justify the purchase. I’d personally pick Don’t Explain, You Go To My Head, and Strange Fruit for that honor. Ah, and Good Morning Heartache is a bit weird, but needs a special mention.
Unfortunately, unlike some earlier albums, this album isn’t particularly “audiophile”, as a bit overproduced and compressed. But in a way, that goes well with the overall ambiance.
So listen before you buy, but it is certainly worth checking out.
Overall rating (in spite of some annoying tracks): 4 stars