Monday, July 14, 2008


On 'Echo', vocalist Alyssa Graham proves fearless, putting original works alongside songs by the likes of Paul Simon and Sting. But one of the most notable tracks on the album has to be "Involved Again," a tune that might have become one of Billie Holiday's greatest hits had the jazz legend lived to record it.

When Holiday passed away in 1959, "Involved Again" was slated for release on her next album. Saddened at the loss of the singer and her extraordinary voice, the tune's composer, Jack Reardon (who also wrote "The Good Life"), shelved it and moved on, certain that no one "could do it justice afterward." Nearly 50 years later, though, Reardon heard a voice so sweet, so sensuous, that he knew the song could finally come to life the way he had once envisioned it. That voice belonged to Alyssa Graham.

Despite its age, or perhaps because of it, "Involved Again" seems to float along, completely disconnected from time. Album producer Jon Cowherd's tumultuous piano lines recall the smoke-filled jazz clubs of a bygone era, but there is something distinctly modern about Cowherd's arrangement and the intimacy of Graham's delivery.

The story of a jilted lover who swore she'd never let herself fall in love again, the track has a simple elegance about it, a calm and collected style and grace just barely concealing the bubbling well of passion below. It's the perfect centerpiece for 'Echo,' Graham's stunning new album of love and loss, and a fitting tribute to the late Billie Holiday that Graham should carry on her torch with such splendor.

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