The Best of Billie Holiday at Outhouse - The Loft marked an always welcome return to The Edinburgh Fringe by vocalist Mary May and her band - Ray Leonard (bass), Alan King (keyboards) and Kevin Dorrian (drums).
Upstairs at The Outhouse Loft is a good venue for intimate jazz sessions like this show, and on an unusually warm Edinburgh night like this, maybe a bit more like we imagine a “jazz room” to be like.
The musical theme of this show is of course, as the name suggests, the music of the iconic Billie Holiday, and in this hour-long set some classic standards and a few not too often heard songs made the set list for this show. Of course, you really cannot do a Billie Holiday themed show without “God Bless The Child”, “Fine and Mellow” and “Strange Fruit” being in there somewhere, and as always, Mary May gave us an emotional performance of each of them. “Strange Fruit” in particular never fails to disturb me every time I listen to its dark story of race lynchings.
Billie Holiday recorded not only her own songs, but a lot of other people’s songs too, and a good selection of these are in this show too – “That Old Devil Called Love”, and “I Can’t Give you Anything But Love” to name only two more songs performed in classic Mary May style.
Whatever the song though, it is the emotional honesty of the singer that can truly bring them to life, and the songs of Billie Holiday suit Mary May’s vocal range and vocal style of song delivery so well. Also, to truly understand the lyrics of these songs, you need to be of an age that gives you, perhaps, enough of life’s experiences to truly understand their stories of hardships and heartbreaks, and Mary May can make you believe that she has lived through so many of these stories.
If you missed this show, there is another chance to catch up with Mary May and her band on 20th August.
Review by Tom King
The Best of Billie Holiday by Mary May
Outhouse - The Loft
Times vary. Click 'Dates, times and prices' to view the calendar
Aug 5, 20
Country: United Kingdom - Scotland
Group: Mary May