The United States VS. Billie Holiday (Music From The Motion Picture)
Cassandra Monique Batie changed her name to Andra Day in tribute to Billie Holiday (aka “Lady Day”) and now she get to play Ms. Lady Day in the movie The United States VS. Billie Holiday, an impressionistic biopic that tells the story of Holiday’s jail sentence. I’ve yet to see the film but Andra Day is netting some great reviews for her efforts – including her singing. She’s a huge fan, she’s taken influence from Holiday and the soundtrack features very credible versions of the big Billie Holiday staples as sung by Andra Day. We’re talking Strange Fruit, All of Me, Ain’t Nobody’s Business, Lady Sings The Blues and of course God Bless The Child.
Sure, purists might tell you that there’s nothing to see or hear. But I disagree. I’m a huge Billie Holiday fan, as regular readers of my posts will know and yet I’ll acknowledge that the voice is a barrier of entry. It’s not for everyone. The scratchy recordings too. These versions are “cleaned up” but authentic, never too pristine. And Day has all the character and timbre in her voice – but brings in some of her own flavour, including some modern takes. Tigress & Tweed even features something close to a rap – and a very modern drum beat. It’s very cool actually, total fitting and in keeping but just enough of a modern spin. Sebastian Kole guests on the other post-modern take, The Devil & I Got Up To Dance A Slow Dance – it’s also pretty cool.
But the gems here are Lady Sings The Blues which smolders, Lover Man which is sultry and smooth and God Bless The Child which is wistful and wise. Day is a class act here and I look forward to the film regardless of whether it really does stand up – the performances for the soundtrack are good enough to tell me that she’ll be worth seeing in the role.
And the soundtrack deserves the chance to live and breath on its own merit.
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