Lydia McCauley


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When you hear songs this beautiful being performed by a woman with this kind of obvious love and devotion for them, you naturally want to praise her. In Lydia McCauley's case, though, there's a problem: as a singer, she just doesn't seem to be up to the task. The problem isn't her voice per se -- her voice is warm and attractive, and she stays on pitch pretty reliably, but she sings with a pronounced vibrato that is just a bit too slow and loose, and her phrasing is just a bit too uncontrolled, and as a result, many of these songs sound like they're being guessed at rather than authoritatively sung. These twin tendencies are especially disappointing on otherwise attractive arrangements of "The Cuckoo" and "One Morning in May." The instrumental tracks fare better -- McCauley is a fine pianist and arranger, and her original composition "Swallow's Return" is very nice, as is her setting of "Margaret's Waltz." The album's highlight is a lovely instrumental medley consisting of "Skye Boat Song," "Shenandoah," and "The Water Is Wide." There is also a wonderfully soft and gentle rendition of the classic revival song "Softly and Tenderly." Not bad overall, but the vocals need a bit more discipline.

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