Another Legacy title fashioned out of the recordings released in total on the exhaustive Lady Day: The Complete Billie Holiday on Columbia box set of her early career. No complaints here, as few can afford such abundant booty, and because the label sticks to tried and true themes. Although, you may prefer her previous swing record, and the bluesy compilation of her work with velvet-touched tenor-saxophonist Lester Young, Love Songs, Vol. 2 is another antidote to the perception that Lady Day could only excel at mournful, striking, downer tunes such as her most famous work, "God Bless the Child," "Strange Fruit," and "Until the Real Thing Comes Along." Here are 16 sides of the more whimsical, sassy, mischievous, or laughingly resigned Billie Holiday, typified by the unabashedly lustful "I Must Have That Man," the chuckle of Oscar Hammerstein's "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man," and even Hammerstein's depressingly named but actually bouncy "Why Was I Born." Though she's not as unfettered as Louis Armstrong (who, for instance, wrung much more humor with Ella Fitzgerald out of their later '50s look at "A Fine Romance," Holiday's version here from 1936), her behind-the-beat singing remains a flavorful reading on these classic Tin Pan Alley tunes. Of course, there are a few "blue" Holiday tunes, such as Irving Berlin's "This Year's Kisses," and Teddy Wilson & His Orchestra can't help but inject their melancholy notes here and there. So it's not exactly a picnic, but it is once again a multifaceted look at the total talent of one of the best jazz interpreters who ever entered a studio, of the languid tantalization of love just out of reach.
AllMusic Review by Jack Rabid