“Billie Holiday is my muse. Her creative vision and stylistic integrity have influenced both my music and my writing. When I decided to work on this project, I wanted to approach it with respect for her music. I wanted these remixes to be both inspired by and dedicated to the life and craft of one of the most innovative and soulful singers of all time. Each track is designed to represent a significant part of Billie Holiday’s life.”
The last project I received to review before the end of 2011 was a very interesting Billy Holiday tribute by North Carolina based producer L’Orange, titled Old Soul. It doesn’t usually take me this long to write reviews, but this project in particular called for deeper insight before I could fully appreciate the work. To fans of Billy Holiday’s music, the project may be a great find for you. On the contrary for fans that hold Holiday’s beautifully delicate voice as the zenith of jazz pop-vocalists, hearing her chops on a largely instrumental project may prove disappointing.
On that last point, however, I would say that this album is an exception; it does great justice to Holiday’s vibe as a singer above all else. An aspect that great sampling beatmakers have in common is that they are able to show their respect for records by using the chops while preserving the feel, the vibe, the essence, or even the idea. While listening to Old Soul, L’Orange allowed me to paint the same mental murals that I would when listening to many Billy Holiday records, and that is the point in which I find myself most appreciative of these beats. I also appreciated my urge to go back into the Billy Holiday songs I have heard (and haven’t heard), in order to refresh my palette and catch all the references in the project, wherever they were made.
L’Orange’s production is airy, ambient, and enigmatic, much like the voice and overall personality of Holiday. The only recorded bars on the project are on “Lost Souls”, featuring Hassan Mackey, yU, and Kelsey Lu. Kelsey Lu is an artist who I had never heard of before this project, but her voice is stellar, and, had me crying for more of her work on the rest of the tracks. Her contribution to “Lost Souls” gives the song an almost Wu-Tang-esque feel, with shades reminiscent of the Wu features by Blue Raspberry or Tekitha.
Many tribute projects miss the mark by trying to do too much, or trying to sound too different. L’Orange’s Old Soul is a tastefully-done tribute that was produced by a true fan.
Written by @SevSeveer