If we’re being genre specific, then EVA CASSIDY was never a “soul singer” but her music has touched the souls of millions who find a huge  emotional connection with her music. And those “millions” will continue to enjoy sharing their emotions with Eva’s music via a new album, ‘I Can Only Be Me’, just released on Blix Street Records.

The nine tracker is one of those now fashionable albums where some of an artist’s best songs are reissued with new instrumentation delivered by a full orchestra. In this case, the London Symphony Orchestra under the guidance of master arranger Christopher Willis. The resulting marriage of two seemingly disparate worlds – the pared back beauty of Ms Cassidy’s voice and the lush soundscapes –  create a  poignant and at times eerily transcendental music.

The repertoire is interesting and varied. Soul fans will recognize versions of Curtis and the Impressions’ ‘People Get Ready’ and Bill Withers’ ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ while some might just remember the obscure Stevie Wonder song, ‘I Can Only Be Me’ for which the album is named. (Stevie’s original first appeared on the soundtrack to a 1988 movie, ‘School Daze’).

Amongst the other tracks are covers of Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time After Time’, Christine’ McVie’s ‘Songbird’, Buffy Sainte-Marie’s ‘Tall Trees In Georgia’ and the standard ‘Autumn Leaves’. All are  delivered with warmth and sincerity with Willis’ symphonic backing creating just the right level of shading to enhance the original vocals. He says: “Eva has a characteristic way of growing very big sometimes, getting very passionate, and then going very small. It’s one of the things that people react to so well. My arrangements had to match very closely what she’s doing, as they do when I’m working on animations and films. Eva  seems to be thinking about the big questions when she’s singing. And orchestral arrangements have a tendency to dwell on that. The result is unavoidably ethereal, feeling Eva’s presence from beyond time and space. This effect wasn’t intentional, it happened on its own.’

Eva Cassidy’s ‘I Can Only Be Me’ is out now and yes, it’s not a soul album but I’ll contend that there’s more soul here than lots of music that masquerades as “soul” today.