Cassandra Wilson

"Coming Forth By Day"

(Legacy Recordings); Jazz

By ​Phil ​Bennett

As part of the Billie Holiday centennial celebration, Cassandra Wilson has released an album of interpretations from the Holiday catalogue.

She could have attempted to emulate the Holiday sound, but, as she herself said, that would have been an insult, or she could have gone the Rod Stewart route and presented a bland glossover, but this simply wouldn’t have been a consideration.

What she has done instead is to totally reinvent these numbers and, in the process, she really has created something new and wondrous.

This album is an eerie masterpiece that dips these songs knee deep into a sensual swamp usually reserved for the devil-invoking blues.

Pulled together by master producer Nick Launay and an ensemble who truly have a grip on the power of simplicity and soul-baring edginess, Coming Forth By Day is imbued with such a dark sense of space and shadowy texture that you can almost see the flickering spirit of these songs’ essence.

Wilson’ voice wraps around these melodies like a slithering python, slowly squeezing new meanings and layers out of the words so that All Of Me is portrayed from the perspective of despair rather than giddy adoration, while Good Morning Heartache is the sound of a heart scarring.

Behind her, the combination of T Bone Burnett and Nick Zinner on guitars, and the Bad Seeds’ Thomas Wydler and Martyn P Casey on drums and bass, comes up with a modus operandi that summons the ghost of pre-war Delta Blues to haunt these classic numbers.

Cassandra Wilson nearly always creates something special but this one is a real knockout.

Staggeringly good.

​Phil ​Bennett

Musician, actor, singer, music reviewer, Phil’s interests cover a lot of bases and this is reflected in the music he writes about. From blues to soul, ambient to electronic, Phil writes about artists he feels are interesting, true to their craft and worthy of your ears.