Lady Sings the Blues, Vol. 2 continues Capitol's trawl through its nearly never-ending vaults for torch songs capable of crossover to a new audience enjoying contemporary pop vocalists like Norah Jones, Jamie Cullum, and Katie Melua. Just as well selected as its predecessor, this second volume also offers a greater range, moving from loose-limbed soul singers Aretha Franklin and Joss Stone to the nearly operatic Shirley Bassey and Nancy Wilson in just a few tracks. Programmed well, it also allows for a range of moods and settings that don't always have to be melancholy and solitary; Helen Merrill's historic 1954 meeting with the lyrical trumpeter Clifford Brown on "You'd Be So Nice to Come Home To" manages to be warm and very nearly mournful, all at once, while Sarah Vaughan relies on Count Basie for a little buoyancy on "I Cried for You" and pianist Jacky Terrasson extends the emotional range of "Little Boy Lost" far more than even Cassandra Wilson could do on her own. The list of preeminent vocalists -- Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Kay Starr -- is definitive, and the compilation is excellent.
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AllMusic Review by John Bush