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3.7 out of 5 stars
3
Silver Pony
Format: Audio CD|Change
Price:£8.86+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime

TOP 500 REVIEWERon 23 November 2010
I'm afraid I found this another disappointing record from such a great singer - from it's horrible cover (slightly more forgiveable when you know the story behind it) to the music, which is a mix of live tracks recorded in Europe and others recorded in a studio in New Orleans. The tracks are a mixture of jazz standards such as the opener "Lover come back to me", blues like Muddy Waters "40 days and 40 nights" and more contemporary material like the Beatles' "Blackbird" and Stevie Wonder's "If it's magic". So there is lots of variety here and as usual Cassandra's voice is a wonderful but I just found the songs and playing a bit uninspiring - except for the truly marvelous live extended version of Charlie Patten's "Saddle up my pony" which for me just totally eclipses the rest of the CD. I wasn't keen on Cassandra's version of "St. James Infirmary" from the CD "Loverly" and the live version included here isn't a great deal better. The other tracks, including the duet with John Legend on "Watch the sunrise", are just about OK but apart from "Saddle up my pony" there is nothing here to compare with the complete mastery of her "Blue light 'til dawn" CD.
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on 25 July 2011
Since Cassandra Wilson signed with Blue Note back in 1993 and brought us the wonderful "Blue Light Till Dawn", she has released 7 really impressive new recordings. "Silver Pony" is kind of the eighth, but it feels more like another compilation as it does not include that much new material.

There are indeed quite a few other flaws to this CD. It contains many different styles, all familiar to Cassandra on different albums, but here, they are compiled into one. Although this can sometimes work, it does not really do so here and feels a bit thrown together - for example, "Saddle Up My Pony" does not fit well next to "If It's Magic". There are some disappointing choices in the live recordings such as "A Night In Seville" which is just an instrumental and the aforementioned "Saddle Up My Pony" which, at nearly ten minutes long, is a little too monotonous and simple. The live cover of Lennon and McCartneys "Blackbird" is too bland and ordinary. The duet with John Legend "Watch The Sunrise" is a nice song, but their vocals sound pretty awful together and it would have been much better without him. The track "Silver Pony" is pretty pointless as it is just 30 seconds long even though it was apparently written by six people.

On the up side, "Beneath The Silver Moon" is pleasant, the version of Stevie Wonders' "If It's Magic" is indeed quite magical and the funky "Forty Days And Forty Nights" brings some well needed rythym to the album. Two strong live performances are "Lover Come Back To Me" and "St James Infirmary", but they both feature on her 2008 release "Loverly", as does "A Day In The Life Of A Fool", so it is a strange choice to add the live versions here, only 2 years later.

Although it is well produced and includes five good tracks, I can't help but feel disappointed with an album that mixes live tracks with new material. I would have prefered it if she had recorded a whole new album with new songs and then included a bonus live disc. I hope this does not mean that she has run out of inspiration.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 4 January 2011
Cassandra Wilson has always been a singer of gravitas
and consummate conviction. This collection of live and
studio tracks, even though it may be little more than
a stepping stone from one place to another, brims over
nonetheless with the spirit of a woman who understands
how to find the heart of a song and fill it with life and
(especially in the case of a few of these old warhorses)
new meaning and unimpeachable style and grace.

There are one or two misadventures and dead ends (the
instumental 'A Night In Seville' is a tad lacklustre
and the electric piano solo on opening track 'Lover
Come Back To Be' is certainly less than lovely!) but
Ms Wilson's round and velvety tones more than make up
for any minor misdemeanors in the overall programme.

On 'Beneath A Silver Moon' she is on sparkling form (as is
her fine ensemble) and weaves the elusive melody in and out
of the slinky rhythmic structure like a spider negotiating a
complex cobweb caught in the light of a moonbeam. Magical!

So too her take on Stevie Wonder's delightful 'If It's Magic'.
The spare but luminous arrangement gives the voice room to move
and breathe. I think it is one of Ms Wilson's finest moments.

The haunting live rendition of the Luiz Bonfa/Carl Sigman
composition 'A Day In The Life Of A Fool' is another of
the album's most captivating performances. Smooth and sensual
and mesmerizingly moody. A dream for a long, hot, summer night.

Final track 'Watch The Sunrise', a duet with John Legend,
probably shouldn't work but it does. An emotionally uplifting
conclusion to a fine album. (The cello delivers a sublime
third voice!)

Silver Pony is a grower which ranks with the very best of
Ms Wilson's work. A voice in a million in very fine fettle.

Highly Recommended.
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