Cappuccino Soul

Cappuccino Soul

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Billie Holiday’s Love Songs, Volume 2

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It's funny how Billie Holiday impersonators are often very amusing. The imitators try to capture the Lady’s unique intonations and vocal agility, but often seem to tighten their throats too much and sing with an excess of vibrato. Holiday’s voice had a natural tremble that was harsh and smooth at the same time. She was able to both soothe and jar listeners.

Holiday's Love Songs 2 will satisfy listeners who crave Lady Day's authentic intensity that no other singer has ever been able to duplicate. With this album, Holiday takes listeners on a passionate journey into love’s joy and tragedy.

Billie’s desire and obsession for the men in her life come through on every note. It’s a little unnerving when she sings, “I'm like an oven that's crying for heat/ He treats me awful each time that we meet/ it’s just unlawful how that boy can cheat/ But I must have that man.” You wonder how such a strong, gifted woman could serve as a doormat for any man. Holiday, who conveyed true emotion and heartache with her voice, was obviously speaking from experience. She was sexy and tragic--a feat that's hard for today's young female singers to pull off. They either sound too raunchy, too rough or like little girls pretending to be experienced women.

Pianist Teddy Wilson, trumpeter Buck Clayton and Holiday's musical brother, Lester Young, will please listeners the way few of today's musicians do. These men were master craftsmen who knew how to follow and support lead singers. When Holiday intentionally falls behind the beat, they're right there with her. The band members often set the tone for the songs with long introductions that setup Billie’s grand opening.

Holiday, who deftly walked the line between sensuality and despair, has influenced many contemporary singers. But not many can match Lady Day’s straight and sincere dose of love, lust and tragic romance.

7 comments:

Anne said...

Lady Day was one of a kind. :)

john h said...

Alicia - you've captured Billie's talent well. Another element that isn't authentic for the modern imitators is the pain and the angst. 'strange fruit' holds up incredibly well..that song is a thesis.

don't know anyone who compares.

Anne said...

Strange Fruit - OMG, that is easily the most haunting song I've ever heard. So meaningful, in a very sad way. Bless her for recording it. I suspect it made a lot of people think, and spurred some activism. Maybe even saved a few lives.

Alicia Benjamin said...

John,
Strange Fruit is a masterpiece. I can hardly hear it without seeing the body hanging from the tree or crying.

Alicia Benjamin said...

Anne,
I almost think Billie Holiday was put on earth to sing Strange Fruit and God Bless the Child.

Shai said...

Lady Day, I have been fascinated with her since I was in middle school, I used to read tons of stuff on her in the library.

Alicia Benjamin said...

Shai,
I too have been fascinated with Lady Day since around Middle School. I played her music just about everyday during my last years in high school. I played her music a lot in college too. Although I don't play her music much anymore, her voice still moves me whenever I hear it.