Blue Holiday couches Johnny Holiday in the kind of smoky, late-night setting perfectly matched to the slow-burning intensity of his vocals. A carefully selected and sequenced collection of lovestruck ballads, its uncommon intimacy is both startling and soothing. Holiday doesn't interpret songs like "Too Late Now," "You Don't Know What Love Is," and "No One Ever Tells You" so much as he inhabits them; without ever resorting to histrionics or melodrama, he manages to articulate the depth and scope of heartbreak, transforming private pain into universal emotion. [SSJ's 2006 CD reissue includes the bonus track "It Might as Well Be Spring."] ~ Jason Ankeny
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