A desperate clamoring from fans worldwide is no doubt the last thing the late singer could have imagined when she was at clubs and at home singing and doing rough recordings of the tunes that would someday be chosen for this magnificent hodgepodge. But many years after her death in obscurity in late 1996, she became a true phenomenon, with enthusiasts who find in her voice a true connection to heaven (take that in any number of ways). So even if the songs are rough, they're still Eva Cassidy. Another precious listen to her transcendent voice -- so brilliant in all genres; wispy and angelic one minute, soulful and guttural the next -- is worth all the dusty shelf-searching this compilation no doubt entailed. The songs recorded at the now-defunct Annapolis club Pearls -- the obscure chestnut "It Doesn't Matter Anymore," which Paul Anka gave to Buddy Holly; Gordon Lightfoot's "Early Morning Rain"; and the tearjerking "Danny Boy" -- present Cassidy at her purest, her simple acoustic guitar riding along behind increasingly emotional vocal lines. "Fever" is an alternate take from the version that wound up on Chuck Brown's The Other Side, beautifully torchy and featuring a sly violin line by brother Dan Cassidy. She recorded a folky rendition of the Sandy Denny classic "Who Knows Where the Time Goes" at the Maryland Inn, her voice rising and falling over a subtle violin. Her smoky jazz chops -- think Norah Jones with a lot more fire -- are in full force on "You've Changed" (recorded at Blues Alley in Washington, D.C.). Probably the richest performances are the powerful home-demo renditions of the title track and "Tennessee Waltz," given off-the-cuff readings (with only simple guitar lines) that show off Cassidy's casual genius. Finally, Cassidy's dad found a few formal early studio recordings, "Still Not Ready" and "I Can Only Be Me," a heartrending song Stevie Wonder wrote for Spike Lee's School Daze but never recorded. That's OK -- Cassidy's unintentional penchant is for redefining songs and creating new and definitive versions. Most likely, no major label would ever put out a new artist recording with this kind of a mixed bag, both stylistically and production-wise. But this hardly matters, as listeners seek more and more from the angel who left long before the world fell in love with her. The continuing heavenly serenade is hard to resist.
AllMusic Review by Jonathan Widran