There’s a short way to review a new Clooney collection: Buy! For those who insist on specifics, here goes: In these 10 songs associated with Lady Day—including “God Bless the Child” and “I Cover the Waterfront”—Clooney avoids imitation. Holiday in her later years always put the full measure of her anguished life on display. The sad songs are threaded with pain and bitterness; even the more upbeat never quite suggest that our love is here to stay. Clooney gives this material a sunnier gloss. In “Good Morning Heartache” she’s done in by love but not done with it. She lends a special buoyancy to “He’s Funny That Way” and “Come Love,” a verge-of-laughter joy to “Them There Eyes.” While her “Don’t Explain” and “Lover Man” don’t quite possess Holiday’s wrenching soulful-ness, she imbues both with a quiet dignity.
To comment on Clooney’s skillful phrasing in the rueful “Everything Happens to Me” or the adroitly placed pauses in “Good Morning Heartache” or her sheer musicianship seems unnecessary, like noting that Everest is high. (Concord)