Eva Cassidy: Fields of Gold
Field of Gold
Eva Cassidy (guitar, vocals)
Live at Blues Alley (Blix Street Records 10046)
Eva Cassidy (guitar, vocals),
Keith Grimes (electric guitar).
Composed by Sting.
Recorded: Blues Alley, Washington, D.C., Jan. 2, 1996
Rating: 100/100 (learn more)
When Eva Cassidy died from melanoma in 1996 at age 33, she was all but unknown as a performer. She labored in the fringes of the music world, but the industry knew her not—the execs and A&R gurus focused on trendier fare with more attitude, and were hardly interested in such compact, heartfelt music as one hears on this track. Cassidy had earned grudging respect through her backup work on projects in a range of styles, and had performed low-profile gigs in and around her hometown of Washington, D.C. But to support herself she also did landscaping, painting and worked for a nursery. This live recording at Blues Alley was a rare chance for Cassidy to present her music at the major local jazz venue.
After her death, Cassidy's small body of work spread far and wide by that best of methods, even more reliable as a guide to something special than a glowing review in the Times or The New Yorker—namely, word of mouth, the passionate advocacy of individual music lovers, each one anxious to share Cassidy's recordings with others. Eight million CDs were eventually sold in this amazing posthumous career turnabout. And Cassidy deserves every bit of this success. Even on the basis of her few recordings, she stands out as one of the great song interpreters of modern times. Her phrasing is sublime here, her technique absolutely sure, but most impressive of all is her preternatural ability to penetrate into the emotional center of a song. And it all sounds so deceptively simple. On that mythical desert island with the tiny CD case, I want this disk in my collection.
Reviewer: Ted Gioia